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Bucs' Aguayo could finish much better than he started

Roberto Aguayo
Roberto Aguayo
Published Dec. 31, 2016

TAMPA — Roberto Aguayo got it straightened out — his kicks and future both look good. After starting the season 4-of-8 on field goals, he has made 17 of 20.

He also made 17 straight extra points.

"Yeah, he's been on a little hot streak," coach Dirk Koetter said. "We've had faith that Roberto would come out of this thing on the back end and be a really solid kicker for a lot of years."

The confounding thing about Aguayo is his longest field goal is only 43 yards. He is 0-for-1 from 50 yards or longer and 4-of-8 from 40-49. Does Aguayo have the ability to make longer field goals?

"Yeah, absolutely. I mean, he made a 58-(yard field goal) in practice (Thursday), and he's made (longer) this last month," Koetter said. "That's usually where we stop him, is somewhere around 58. He's definitely got the leg to do it."

Aguayo isn't the only rookie who has pleased the Bucs. CB Vernon Hargreaves has started every game, and his coverage has grown tighter with each one. DE Noah Spence, despite playing with a shoulder harness, has 51/2 sacks.

"Yeah, I was just looking at that this morning. I think we have 13 rookies maybe on the active (roster), plus one that's been with us all year on the practice squad that we're excited about," Koetter said while lauding GM Jason Licht's past two drafts.

"There's always the talk about do rookies fade at the end of the season. And I don't think our guys have. I think they've hung in there, and that's how really good teams build, is through their young players. They hit on their draft choices, they get a good, young nucleus and they build around them. And if you look at the young guys that we have in three or four years or less in this league, we have a strong nucleus to move forward with."

LIGHTER SIDE: The team used Friday's practice as an impromptu jersey-swap day, where some players exchange practice uniform shirts. DT Gerald McCoy wore No. 24 while CB Brent Grimes pulled on 93. DE Robert Ayers wore 21. CB Alterraun Verner wore 91.

"Yeah, I'm not a big fan of the jersey swap," Koetter said. "But I told Robert Ayers on that one pass rush, he looked a lot faster wearing 21."

INJURIES: DE William Gholston (elbow) did not practice this week and is out for Sunday's game against Carolina. RT Demar Dotson, who is out of the NFL's concussion protocol, will play. T Gosder Cherilus (groin/ankle) practiced Friday and is questionable. Hargreaves (abdomen) was limited and is questionable.