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Fennelly: Nick Folk knows how to just do his job

Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Nick Folk (2) makes a field goal during the first half of a preseason game between the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Nick Folk (2) makes a field goal during the first half of a preseason game between the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017.
Published Aug. 29, 2017

TAMPA — The kicker will see you now.

Have your nerves settled, Bucs fans?

After a strong week of practice, and on a rainy night, Nick Folk did his best to put the Bucs' kicking question behind them. Folk went 3-for-3 on field goals, hitting from 31 yards, 42 yards and 43 yards against Cleveland on Saturday.

Bucs coach Dirk Koetter smiled Sunday when asked about Folk.

"You expect him to make it," Koetter said. "That's what NFL kickers do. Nick did it. That's what he's supposed to do."

Safe and sound, right?

"Not really," Folk said after the game. "It's a constant competition between myself and guys who aren't here. There are still a lot of good kickers out there."

RELATED: Nick Folk's 3-for-3 on field goals is lone bright spot on offense vs. Browns.

Folk, 32, was brought here to beat out Roberto Aguayo, and Aguayo melted accordingly.

What Folk does next, beginning in Miami in the opener Sept. 10, might carry a lot of weight, particularly since the Bucs' first-team offense has scored ONE TOUCHDOWN in three preseason games.

Folk, entering his 11th season, has made 81.3 percent of his field-goal attempts in his career, a solid number, if not outstanding. The real question is what he'll do from 45 yards and beyond.

But Saturday was a good night for him, a calming effect, even in the rain.

"I had great snap-holds all night from Garrison (Sanborn) and Bryan (Anger)." Folk said. "They did a great job for me and made it easier. I just had to go out there and have fun with it."

Folk considered some of his early preseason struggles, like that missed field goal and blocked extra point at Jacksonville.

RELATED: NFL teams have a coach for everything. Why not kickers?

"The last four or five years, I don't kind of want to start off camp too hot. Because it's really hard for a specialist, it's hard to hold your 100-percent readiness at all times," he said. "You want to kind peak in Week 1. So, I'm kind of still building to that. But I feel pretty good for that being the dress rehearsal. I feel ready to get going in Miami."

The man sounds confident.

"Confidence at any position is key," Folk said. "Not just mine. But mine's more black and white. You make it or miss."

Folk, a husband and father of three, has a back story, one he says helps him handle the black-and-white world of an NFL specialist. He says he doesn't rattle.

"I've got a pretty awesome family that taught me that when I was young, that no matter what happens, just be yourself, be calm, be collected," Folk said.

He comes from a family of doctors. His mother is a pediatrician. His grandfather was a cardiac surgeon. His grandmother was as anesthesiologist. He has an uncle who is a general surgeon, an aunt who is a high-risk obstetrics surgeon and another uncle who works as a doctor in sports medicine.

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RELATED: Is Nick Folk a significant upgrade over Roberto Aguayo?

I also have read on Wikipedia that Folk's mother, Kathryn, is a direct descendant of William Bradford, an original Mayflower passenger. I'm surprised we missed that on Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Original Plymouth Colony.

Back to the family …

"When they get in emergency situations, they just do their jobs," Folk said. "You just want to calm down, take a deep breath and figure out what's the best way of attacking. That's how I look at things.

"My grandfather was one of the pioneers of bypass surgery. You could kill a guy on the table. Life and death. They play with life and death. I don't. I kick."

Safe and sound, right?

"You have to be on top of your game with the young guys or vets trying to take your spot," Folk said. "You can't let one kick determine who you are. The next one is the most important kick every time."


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