TAMPA — The grim skies and seasonable chill that greeted the Bucs special teams regulars at Wednesday’s practice seemed an apt setting.
General perception of the unit has become, well, overcast.
Collectively, the group is coming off arguably its worst game of the year in Sunday night’s 9-0 home loss to New Orleans. Punter Bradley Pinion’s struggles persisted (37.3-yard net average on eight attempts), and Ryan Succop missed his lone field-goal try, a 45-yarder.
Additionally, rookie Grant Stuard was flagged for roughing Saints punter Blake Gillikin, and the punt-coverage team surrendered a 34-yard Easop Winston return that set up a Saints field goal.
So which segment concerns Bruce Arians the most?
“Kickers,” the Bucs coach said Monday. “ Punters and our kicker. Both have got to do better jobs and be accountable. They’re both very talented, and games like that, you can’t miss field goals and you can’t punt poorly, and we did that.”
While Succop’s miss snapped a streak of 10 consecutive made field goals, he hasn’t converted one longer than 48 yards this season and has missed three extra points.
“I don’t like the missed extra points and those fields goals; he’s better than that,” Arians said after Wednesday’s practice. “So hopefully it’s fixed.”
Pinion, toiling through an unspecified hip ailment, has posted a net average of 37.3 and 37.4 yards his last two games, with second-half efforts of 39 and 30 yards Sunday. His recent struggles were lowlighted by a 20-yarder in the first half of the overtime win against the Bills two weekends ago.
The Bucs still have former Lou Groza Award winner Jose Borregales on the practice squad and last week added former Armwood High and Syracuse punter Sterling Hofrichter to the practice squad, as well. Arians, however, indicated the pair represent an insurance policy in case all three specialists are placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, as occurred briefly in 2020.
“There’s no competition,” Arians reiterated. “It’s just whether or not Bradley’s OK.”
Contact Joey Knight at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls
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