Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo's struggles deepen

By Greg Auman | Times Staff Writer

TAMPA — Over the past 12 days, the escalating struggles of rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo have become the biggest story of Bucs training camp.

In his first preseason game, he missed an extra point. In his second, he missed two field goals.

And Tuesday, during a joint practice with the Browns, he missed three kicks, one so badly a national website posted a story on Aguayo with the classic cartoon of Charlie Brown flying in midair, with Lucy pulling the ball away at the last second.

Good grief.

That certainly was the reaction among some fans who packed One Buc Place for the practices open only to season-ticket holders. Aguayo's worst miss prompted head-shaking, groans and some boos.

It's still nearly three weeks until Aguayo's first real NFL game, but his continued struggles, combined with the intense scrutiny given to the Bucs' decision to trade up into the second round to draft him, have made him a national headline, or worse, a punchline.

The Bucs, meanwhile, are trying to remain positive and minimize the circus surrounding the 22-year-old, who didn't miss a kick from inside 40 yards during his career at Florida State.

"He's struggling," coach Dirk Koetter conceded after Tuesday's practice. "He's struggling a little bit right now. He has to work his way through it. We've talked to him. He knows what he has to do. He's working through it."

When Aguayo missed the 33-yard PAT on the first touchdown of the season, Koetter joked about the miss a day later.

"We knew there was going to be a huge outcry whenever he missed his first kick," he said. "So he actually missed that on purpose, so we could just get it over with."

By Saturday night in Jacksonville, when he missed a 32-yard field goal and another from 49 yards against the Jaguars, it wasn't as funny.

"It shouldn't happen with me," Aguayo said after the game. "You just have to fix it and keep moving on. I feel like that's what preseason games are for, to get the young guys rolling in, to keep working, keep getting better."

Aguayo did okay in one pressure situation on Tuesday — Koetter said he'd end practice early if Aguayo could hit a 50-yard field goal. He did.

But Aguayo still faces more pressure than perhaps any kicker to enter the NFL in 16 years. The Raiders took FSU's Sebastian Janikowski in the first round in 2000, but that was before social media had fans getting live updates on every miss at every open practice.

While Aguayo was missing kicks Tuesday morning, the next field over saw Browns kicker Pat Murray, cut by the Bucs shortly after Aguayo was drafted, go 4-for-4 on kicks.

Aguayo signed a four-year contract worth just over $4 million, including more than $2 million fully guaranteed. Draft picks get cut every year, but rarely as high as the second round. There's little chance the Bucs would release Aguayo — if his struggles continue into the regular season, the Bucs could sign another kicker and make him inactive, as seven players on the 53-man roster are every week.

Asked if the Bucs would bring in another kicker in preseason, Koetter suggested it was a better question for general manager Jason Licht, who has ultimate control over the roster.

After Saturday's game, quarterback Jameis Winston, a teammate of Aguayo's at FSU, offered support, suggesting that Aguayo was only "teasing" fans and would soon be back to his reliable, consistent self.

Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy echoed that support after Tuesday's practice, saying he struggled to live up to the high expectations of where he was drafted (No. 3 overall in 2010) before he became a Pro Bowl player in his third season.

"One thing I've done with him is go to him and encourage him. He's a rookie," McCoy said. "He was drafted high as a kicker, so a lot of expectations come with that with being the guy. Who better than me to go talk to him about being drafted high and being expected to be the guy right away? Especially with me struggling the way I did early on with injuries and not living up to expectations, who better to go talk to him? I just go encourage him and say 'Hey, listen, stay the course. It'll come along.' "

There are encouraging precedents for many of today's top NFL kickers struggling at the start of their careers, but there's also the lingering question for Bucs fans: What if Aguayo never works out these problems?

There are precedents for that. In 1995, the Rams drafted kicker Steve McLaughlin in the third round, and he lasted only one season, going 8-for-16 on field goals. In 1968, the Lions used a second-round pick on Jerry DePoyster, who went 3-for-15 on field goals as a rookie and never attempted another one.

Koetter said Tuesday he believes Aguayo's problems are mental, and that Aguayo believes that as well, rather than any mechanical issue. On Saturday, Koetter conceded he was ill-equipped as a coach to fix a kicker.

"I don't know what's wrong with Roberto right now," he said. "It is the preseason. It's the time to work it out, but I'm not the guy that can help him. I'm not that guy."

Adam

Vinatieri

New England

77.1%

27-35

Jason

Hanson

Detroit

80.8%

26-31

Stephen

Gostkowski

New England

76.9%

20-26

Jan

Stenerud

Kansas City

58.3%

21-36

A sampling of the starts of notable kickers

Lots of great NFL kickers have started their careers badly. Whether drafted high, like Aguayo,

or not at all, like Adam Vinatieri, many kickers have some transition from college success to the same in the NFL.

Here are a few to consider:

Sebastian

Janikowski

Oakland

68.8%

22-32

Adam

Vinatieri

New England

77.1%

27-35

Jason

Hanson

Detroit

80.8%

26-31

Stephen

Gostkowski

New England

76.9%

20-26

Jan

Stenerud

Kansas City

58.3%

21-36

Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo's struggles deepen 08/23/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 12:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  2. Lightning's Steve Yzerman enjoying Nikita Kucherov's scoring run

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, of Russia, celebrates after scoring a goal on the New Jersey Devils during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  3. Bucs journal: Offense needs to get off to a faster start

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The past two games have seen the Bucs offense muster furious rallies in the fourth quarter of losses, with 229 yards against the Patriots and a franchise-record 27 points against the Cardinals.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  4. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues

    Bucs

    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  5. Lightning's Steve Yzerman: Nikita Kucherov 'wants to be great'

    Blogs

    If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Nikita Kucherov joined Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux and Keith Tkachuk as the only players in the last 30 years to score a goal in each of his team's first six games.