Make us your home page

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jones: Gramatica says to give Bucs kicker Aguayo time

Martin Gramatica, the best kicker in Bucs history, answered his phone Monday afternoon.

"Hey Martin," he was asked, "got a minute?"

"Sure," he said. "But I'm not talking about the kicker."

Long pause.

"I'm kidding!" he said with a laugh.

Of course he is talking about the kicker. Everybody's talking about the kicker.

Roberto Aguayo is the talk of the town. And not in a good way.

Leave it to the Bucs to have a kicker controversy with only one kicker on the roster. It has been only two preseason games, but Aguayo is already keeping up the FSU tradition. You know, wide left and wide right.

Aguayo has missed three kicks: an extra point and field goals of 32 and 49 yards. Not exactly the start you want from a kicker, especially one that you moved up to draft in the second round.

So is this a big deal? Should the Bucs be concerned? The answer to both: heck yeah!

The whole point of drafting Aguayo in the second round — did we mention he was taken in the second round? — was that the kicking game would no longer be a worry.

Now it's among the biggest concerns the Bucs have.

"The bottom line is he is expected to make those kicks," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. "Everybody knows it and we can't hide behind it."

Even Aguayo is aware that he is a topic of conversation.

"It's all good," he said. "You guys have a job to have media coverage. At the end of the day, with my whole career and what I've done, misses are rare with me. Like I said, there are a lot of people that miss sometimes. I miss at practice sometimes. It is what it is. There's a lot of pressure on me, so if you guys come to me after a miss, it's news I guess you could say. But it's all good."

Well, not everything is good. Like some of his kicks. Which is why there is concern. We're talking about the best kicker, statistically, in college football history. He should make extra points with his eyes closed. Even 49-yarders should be made.

But there is at least one guy who says this is no big deal. That's Gramatica. Like Aguayo, he is one of only 19 kickers to be drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL draft since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. The Bucs took him in the third round of the 1999 draft out of Kansas State.

"I feel like he's going to have a great year," said Gramatica, 40. "I think he's going to be fine. I wouldn't start worrying at all about him. That's crazy to think that."


"Look, the good thing is we know he is a great kicker and good kickers come out of it eventually," Gramatica said.

Gramatica said let the kid get adjusted.

"There are lot of new things for him," Gramatica said.

New ball. New team. New teammates. New city. New snapper. New holder. New everything.

"There are a lot of changes from college to here," Gramatica said. "I don't have any doubts that he'll be fine. It is taking just a little bit longer to adjust. Hey, that's why you have preseason."

But what is it, exactly, that needs to be fixed?

"You know, sometimes you just mis-hit the ball," Gramatica said. "That happens."

Could it be mental? Maybe, says Aguayo.

"I would say a little bit, just focusing on relaxing and not trying to do too much," Aguayo said when asked if he has changed his mental approach. "Overthinking and think I did this and I need to do this and this. You get too many thoughts in your head. Sometimes you got to sit back and relax and just kick it. So that's the mind-set going into practice this week."

Then there's this: everyone is talking about how risky it was for the Bucs to take a kicker in the second round. The second-round selection has gone from being a badge of honor to an albatross around his neck.

"When you've been drafted, you do have that extra pressure," Gramatica said. "Everyone expects you to kick like a veteran right away. But, at the end of the day, if you did it in college and you did it great in college, you'll be able to do it in the NFL."

So what do the Bucs do?

They could bring in another kicker, just to ramp up the urgency and give Aguayo some competition. But that would be pointless and it could wreck Aguayo's confidence.

The Bucs aren't about to give up on a second-round pick after two preseason games. And if you're going to bring in another kicker, it can't be for show. There would have to be a legitimate competition, an actual possibility that Aguayo could lose his job.

That's not going to happen.

Instead, all the Bucs can do is pat him on the back and keep sending him back out there.

"That's why you have preseason," Gramatica said. "It's better for him to do it now than during week one. You have a lot of these kickers that don't feel pressure in the preseason and then go into week one and can't make anything. I'd rather have it this way."

It might even turn out to be a good thing.

"In times like this, it builds you up so down the road in the future you can be stronger," Aguayo said. "So you've got to have times like this when you struggle a little bit at a time when everything else is good."

But let's be honest, nothing will be good until the field goals are.

And until they are, you know people are going to talk about it.

Jones: Gramatica says to give Bucs kicker Aguayo time 08/22/16 [Last modified: Monday, August 22, 2016 10:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Luke Del Rio regains UF starting job, for now


    GAINESVILLE — Luke Del Rio is once again the starting quarterback for No. 21 Florida.

    Luke Del Rio provided a needed spark when he replaced starter Feleipe Franks and rallied Florida past Kentucky.
  2. Four questions the Lightning still has to answer

    Lightning Strikes

    FORT LAUDERDALE — The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts Monday, with some of the big-named prospects heading out.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) looks on from the bench during a shift change at Lightning hockey training camp in Brandon on Monday (09/18/17). In background on right is Nikita Kucherov (86). DIRK SHADD   |   Times  

  3. Nine Florida football players, 62 felony complaints in fraud scandal


    GAINESVILLE — The fraud scandal that has engulfed the University of Florida's nationally ranked football team for weeks exploded Monday with the first detailed accounts of criminal accusations that threaten to derail the Gators' season.

    Florida Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway (81) runs the ball during the Outback Bowl in January at Raymond James Stadium. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
  4. Where Rays shortstop Matt Duffy's lost season leads

    The Heater

    BRADENTON — In a perfect world Matt Duffy would have been in New York on Monday with his Rays teammates enjoying the final off day of the year. Instead, he was on Field 4 at Pirate City on a sweltering afternoon, trying to restart his season.

    Rays shortstop Matt Duffy plays in his first game (since rehab was aborted) with the club's instructional league on Monday at the Pirate City baseball field and spring training complex in Bradenton [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  5. Vinny Lecavalier's jersey retirement will be another classic Vinny moment

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — He was the face of the franchise. He was taken first overall in the 1998 NHL Draft by a franchise at the bottom. Art Williams, the nutty Tampa Bay Lightning owner at the time, proclaimed the 18-year-old from Ile Bizard, a Montreal borough, "the Michael Jordan of hockey."

    Vincent Lecavalier makes a break for the net while playing an exhibition game on Sunday (9/24/17) with the 2017 U.S. Women???‚??„?s National Team at Amalie Arena in Tampa. Lecavalier was the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 2000???‚??€œ2001 season and between the 2008???‚??€œ2013 and spent his first 14 NHL seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning before signing with the Philadelphia Flyers.