Friday, July 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

It's all good for Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo, fans

TAMPA — When the Bucs' opening drive Friday night stalled at the Browns 30-yard line, the crowd at Raymond James Stadium started cheering.

They didn't want to see a touchdown. They wanted to see a field goal.

As Roberto Aguayo lined up, the crowd quieted. Then they held their breath as the ball spun end over end 48 yards and through the uprights.

Cannons fired. Maybe the most anticipated preseason kick in franchise history was good.

And so was the next kick. And the next. And the next three after that.

Aguayo said he was relaxed all day leading up to the game but "was just ready to go for that first one, that long one for 48 yards. I hit it smooth, right down the middle."

It had been a long week for the second-round draft pick out of Florida State. Fans booed the rookie when he struggled during practice, a mental coach tried to help him regain his focus and everyone who has ever kicked a football offered advice.

The 22-year-old bounced back in the most emphatic way: making every kick. In the 30-13 win over the Browns, he converted three field goals (the 48-yarder as well as a 21-yarder and a 27-yarder) and three extra points.

"It was great to see," coach Dirk Koetter said. "That's definitely the guy we drafted. That's what he's getting paid to do, and he did it."

In the preseason opener against the Eagles, Aguayo missed an extra point but connected on a 38-yard field goal. Against the Jaguars last week, he converted all three extra points but missed two of four field goals.

The Bucs believe Aguayo also can be a weapon on kickoffs. But rather than try to pin the Browns deep in their own territory by kicking high and short, the Bucs decided to have him blast his kicks deep. Each of his seven kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.

Thomas Bassinger's Turning Point column appears on tampabay.com the morning after each Bucs game during the regular season. Contact him at [email protected] Follow @tometrics.

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