Dirk Koetter: Bucs’ kicking battle has ‘a little tension’

31 May

Tracking most position battles during organized team activities is a pointless chore with almost no tangible results. In Tampa Bay, however, the Buccaneers are already keeping a close eye on their place-kicking results.

When Nick Folk signed to compete with last year’s second-round pick Roberto Aguayo, the fight for a job began.

“The competition has definitely started. I know everybody feels it,” coach Dirk Koetter said last week, via Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. “There’s a little tension when we’re going through that. That’s a good thing. That’s a good thing. This is pro football, there’s supposed to be competition.”

Aguayo made 22 of 31 field goals as a rookie, an NFL-low 71 percent. The Florida State product struggled with accuracy and didn’t make up for it with a big leg. In his first year, Aguayo was just 4 of 11 on attempts of 40-plus yards, with a long of 43. He also missed two extra-point tries.

Per Stroud, during last week’s OTAs, Aguayo made 1 of 4 attempts on narrow goal posts (8 1/2 feet wide) and 4 of 5 from 35-40 yards on the regulation posts (18 1/2 feet). Folk went 9 of 9.

It’s only May, and the Bucs likely will give Aguayo until the end of the preseason to make up ground on the 32-year-old Folk, but the youngster will need to display a lot of growth between now and then to keep his job.

One thing is for sure: The kicker battle will be one of the most intriguing aspects of this year’s edition of Hard Knocks.

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