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Tampa Bay Buccaneers release kicker Mike Nugent, sign former Colt Shane Andrus

TAMPA — Mike Nugent's career with the Bucs was much like his wayward field-goal attempts — long enough and no good.

The Bucs released Nugent on Monday, one day after he missed two field goals in the Bucs' 16-13 loss to the Redskins.

The Bucs replaced Nugent with former Colts kicker Shane Andrus, who worked out for the team Monday along with former Seahawks kicker Brandon Coutu.

Andrus signed as an undrafted free agent with the Colts in 2006. He spent the preseason with Indianapolis and kicked off in the first regular-season game before being released.

Bucs coach Raheem Morris indicated at his news conference that Nugent might lose his job.

"We've got kickers coming in (Monday) to work out," Morris said. "If you got an opportunity to get better, then you try to. If you don't, then you don't."

Nugent missed his first four field-goal tries this season before connecting from 37 and 22 yards Sunday, the second of which was deflected and barely fluttered over the goal post.

Nugent, a second-round pick of the Jets from Ohio State in 2005, said Monday that he is mystified by the slump. Because Nugent was a vested veteran and was on the 53-man roster on Week 1, his $2 million base salary is guaranteed.

"This is the first time," Nugent said of his erratic start. "I just think it's one of those things where (when) you get knocked down six times, you got to get up seven."

Nugent won the job over veteran Matt Bryant by default when Bryant suffered a hamstring injury a week into training camp. Bryant was unable to compete after that and was released on the final roster cut.

The Bucs gave no indication why they didn't contact Bryant, but there's speculation they're concerned about his injury recurring. Bryant was expected to work out for the Giants.

Conditions weren't ideal for kickers Sunday at FedEx Field. The wind was from the northwest at 10 mph, but gusts were much higher. But the Bucs weren't making excuses for Nugent.

"Kickers are not my real expertise," Morris said. "But we missed them. The only thing that really matters about a kicker is the result. When you go out there, you either make it or you miss it."

While the Bucs changed kickers Monday, Morris said he is sticking with quarterback Josh Johnson.

The second-year pro from San Diego made his first NFL start Sunday, passing for 106 yards with a touchdown and an interception while rushing for 41 yards.

But Johnson and the Bucs struggled on third down, converting 2-of-13. He was 5-of-9 for 25 yards in the second half.

Even so, Morris said he has no plans to turn the huddle over to first-round pick Josh Freeman, who is the No. 2 quarterback.

"Right now, Josh (Johnson) has earned the right to be named the starter," Morris said. "He did a good job of managing the job (Sunday). And he's going through his growing pains. But I've got to give him his opportunity. I can't base it on what we want to see from Josh Freeman. You can't talk in those kinds of terms. He's not in there yet.

"I'm not going to set a timetable for Josh Freeman. I'm preparing Josh Johnson to win our next football game."

The Bucs also released cornerback Marcus Hamilton in anticipation of activating safety Tanard Jackson from the reserve/suspended list. Jackson served a four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers release kicker Mike Nugent, sign former Colt Shane Andrus 10/05/09 [Last modified: Monday, October 5, 2009 10:53pm]
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