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)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear ready to release kicker Matt Bryant

Matt Bryant grabs his hamstring after it popped three weeks ago. He hasn’t competed with free agent Mike Nugent since.


Matt Bryant grabs his hamstring after it popped three weeks ago. He hasn’t competed with free agent Mike Nugent since.

TAMPA — A year ago, he was the league's most inspirational player who triumphed over tragedy to have his best performance in seven pro seasons.

But Matt Bryant is about to get kicked to the curb.

Bucs coach Raheem Morris called Bryant into his office Monday morning and informed the 34-year-old placekicker he needed to practice this week and play in the final preseason game Friday to have any chance of remaining with the team.

But Bryant says he needs another week for the injured hamstring on his right kicking leg to completely heal.

Rather than jeopardize his career, Bryant said Monday that his release by the Bucs might be better than rushing back into a competition with free agent Mike Nugent.

"I may wait," Bryant said. "The bigger picture is my career and me and my family. When I go out there, the next time I go to kick, there's a lot of contemplation going on this week between me, my family, my agent and whoever else about that. We're just talking it out and seeing what's best for Matt Bryant.

"I'm very close. It's going to sound weird because of the timing of the thing. But if I had another week, I think I could go out there with the mental standpoint of, you know what? It's fully healed. Here we go. Some people say that's easy to say because there's only one more week of the preseason. But that's just where it is."

Bryant kicked a winning field goal against the Packers on Sept. 28, one day after burying his infant son, Tryson.

He went on to his best season (32 of 38 field goals, 84.2 percent). But the Bucs signed Nugent, 27, a Jets free agent, who has struggled (4 of 7 field goals, 57.1 percent) after three preseason games.

"It was very surprising to me and a lot of people," Bryant said. "I can't tell you how many phone calls I got. Let's say I've come to figure out there are few things that you have control over. No matter right or wrong, how justified or unjustified it is, you don't have control over stuff like that."

Three weeks ago, Bryant felt a "pop" in his right hamstring after making a field goal during a training camp practice. The injury has prevented him from competing.

"Nothing tore or came off the bone, but I felt a pop," Bryant said. " … That sensation is not a pleasant feeling."

Bryant said he made adjustments in the offseason and was hitting the ball with more authority. He felt he was winning the competition before the injury.

"One hundred percent, vs. 80 percent, if you call that good competition," Bryant said. "Going throughout mandatory minicamp and the (training camp) here, I didn't miss a kick."

Bryant believes if the Bucs release him, he'll find a new team.

"It's hard to walk away from this team," Bryant said. "As a coach, as an organization, if you had a career 83 percent guy out there, you're going to take a look at him. Different people, friends and through other people throughout the league, it's been reconfirmed. It's just being able to get out there."

Morris was asked Monday whether Bryant still had a chance to remain with the team.

"You've got to make those decisions, but you can't make that one right now," Morris said. "I talked to him this morning. I'll let Matt share with you what he wants to as far as that. When I talked to him, he knows what he has to do. I believe he's going to do it. I just have to let him go out and compete and try to win the job. I can't tell you that there has even been a competition right now because Matt hasn't had the opportunity to go out and compete. I want to see him go out and compete. I want to see him go kick."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers appear ready to release kicker Matt Bryant 08/31/09 [Last modified: Monday, August 31, 2009 10:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  2. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  3. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  4. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …