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Bucs kicker Connor Barth's kick a hit with teammates

TAMPA — K Connor Barth endeared himself to teammates Tuesday afternoon, ending the special teams practice with a 51-yard field goal.

That drew cheers from teammates who didn't have to run up-downs in the heat because of the make.

"It's a good pressure kick, something like a game," Barth said, smiling.

Barth's solid nine-game stint with the Bucs last season — including hitting the winning field goal in the second game against the Saints and three field goals of 50 yards or more against Miami — puts him in a good spot this training camp. Undrafted rookie Hunter Lawrence (Texas) is the only other kicker here. But Barth, 24, who got waived after camp competitions in Kansas City in 2008 and Miami in 2009, is not taking anything for granted.

"There's no question I'm in a way better position than I was last year and the year before," Barth said. "And I definitely see myself in good shape here. But as a kicker, you can't get complacent. Because they're always looking for somebody to replace you. You've got to keep working hard and prove yourself."

TOUGH TRIO: WRs Sammie Stroughter and Micheal Spurlock made some big plays as kick returners last season when stepping in for injured former Pro Bowl player Clifton Smith.

Having three capable players to return punts and kickoffs is a good problem to have for the Bucs, and special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia sees a quality competition brewing. He said the coaches likely will wait to see what the final roster looks like before deciding who will step in in Week 1.

"The thing about them is that they're competing at the (offensive) position they're playing also," Bisaccia said. "So that's going to hold a lot of weight when the time comes for who makes it and who doesn't."

Stroughter said each of them brings something different to the table, from Smith's vision to Spurlock's explosiveness, and they learn from each other.

"It's always a competition," he said. "Clifton is the best. You try to sit back and learn from him as much as possible, same with Spurlock. … You put three heads together, it's better than just one."

A NEW IMAGE: There were plenty of questions about rookie WR Mike Williams past when he was drafted by the Bucs in April. His draft stock dropped because he left Syracuse with three games to play last season after missing curfew for the second time.

But coach Raheem Morris has said he believes Williams can carve a different niche with the Bucs and become one of the franchise's success stories.

"It can be special for him. I talk about it all the time with him," Morris said. "Look around this place. We've created those kinds of players, the Warrick Dunns, the Brian Kellys, the Donnie Abrahams. I can mention different players every single day, great character men, guys who you are proud to say that you know.

"(Williams) found out how hard it is when you're not on the football team and you're not playing. I don't think he wants to mess that up again. He's kind of grown up a little bit, and he's ready to be treated fairly."

Times staff writer Stephen Holder contributed to this report. Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Bucs kicker Connor Barth's kick a hit with teammates 08/03/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 11:18pm]

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