By Jeff Berlinicke
Has anyone notice the Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't have a kicker at this moment? At least one with legitimate NFL experience?
The Bucs kicking woes are well-documented. Last season, former Pro Bowl kicker Martin Gramatica psyched himself out of the role he had held for seven season, and replacement Jay Taylor sax a steady, if not spectacular replacement. Taylor has since been released.
That leaves two kickers on the current roster, although the Bucs are sure to bring in at least one more player between now and the start of training camp. The current kickers are Matt Bryant, a third-year player out of Baylor, and first-year player Todd France of Toledo.
Bryant kicked in four games for the Miami Dolphins last season, and was the full-time kicker for the New York Giants in his first two seasons. France went to training camp with the Giants last year, but never kicked in the regular season.
Bryant is 40-of-50 for his career, but is a disturbing 18-of-24 from 30-39 yards.
The Bucs has few options, at least until cuts are made during training camp. An intriguing possibility is Doug Brien, the New York Jets incumbent who is likely to be released since the Jets took a kicker in the second round of the Jets. Gramatica is proven, and was released by the Colts last month. Several other teams are looking for kickers, so it may turn into a bidding war for Brien, a 12-year veteran.
Coach Jon Gruden was often frustrated by the team's kicking woes last season and went for it on fourth-and-one several times when a field goal would have come in handy. He said the team's kicking issue would be addressed and many expected the Bucs to use a late pick in the draft, but the Bucs settled on the free agents.
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