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October 5, 2009 @ 9:30 am
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Bucs To Audition Kickers

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will audition kickers Monday due to Mike Nugent's woes. Nugent, who signed with Tampa Bay in the offseason, is just 2-of-6 on field goal tries this season. He had two costly misses in the team's 16-13 loss to Washington.
The 0-4 Tampa Bay Buccaneers began preparing for their next opponent - the 2-1 Philadelphia Eagles, but that's not the only thing the team planned for Monday.

The Bucs are also scheduled to audition kickers today due to Mike Nugent's recent woes.

"You evaluate everyday. We have kickers coming in today to work out," said Bucs head coach Raheem Morris. "You got to evaluate your team everyday. You have to evaluate what you are doing everyday. If you have an opportunity to try and get better you try do. If you don't then you don't. That is just where we are at right now. ."

Nugent missed two of his four field goal attempts vs. Washington from 48 and 49 yards out. Both kicks were wide right and cost the Bucs in a 16-13 loss to the Redskins.

"It's got to be my job to handle the wind and kicks, but the wind yesterday was very tricky," said Nugent. "It was changing every 30 seconds or every five minutes. The wind was actually going left in warm-ups, not right like it was on those two misses. I have to do a better job, though."

After going 2-of-4 Sunday, Nugent is now 2-of-6 (33.3 percent) on the season and 8-of-15 (53.3 percent) on his field goal tries as a Buccaneer dating back to the preseason.

"Kickers are not my real expertise, but he missed them," Morris said of Nugent. "The only thing that really matters about a kicker is the result. When you go out there you either make it or you miss it. If the operation looks good, the snaps looks good, the hold and we missed two field goals. It was a windy day. I'm not going to make excuses, and sit here and make excuses for anybody, but their kicker made kicks in the wind. Our kicker has to make kicks in the wind."

A former second-round draft pick, Nugent had great success as a kicker at Ohio State, making 72-of-88 (81.8 percent) of his collegiate field goal tries en route to earning the Lou Groza award as a senior. He originally entered the NFL with the New York Jets. He made 81.5 percent of his field goal tries before signing with Tampa Bay as a free agent during the offseason.

Nugent, 27, is as surprised as anyone by his lack of success.

"This is the first time," Nugent said of being in a slump. "I just think it's one of those things where you get knocked down six times you got to get up seven.

"You're only as good as your next kick. You can't dwell on yesterday. You have to learn from it, find out what you did right or wrong, and then move on."

It isn't clear which free agent kickers the Bucs plan to work out Monday. There isn't much talent available in free agency. However, one kicker that remains unsigned is Matt Bryant, who kicked for the Bucs from 2005-08 before being released by the team in September.

Bryant has made 82.1 percent of his career field goals, but the 34-year old kicker missed most of training camp and preseason with a hamstring injury.

Morris declined to share the names of the kickers scheduled to audition for the Bucs at One Buc Place.

"We don't want to put names out there right now to be honest with you," said Morris. "We don't want to help anybody else or hurt ourselves for that matter. We'll never put names out there, or the guys that we work out there."

In the meantime, Nugent's teammates still believe in his ability to kick - and make - field goals for the Buccaneers. If he remains on the team, Nugent will have to regain his kicking form in a hurry.

"You can't say much to him. I don't know much about kicking. I just know it's an art form," said Bucs safety and special teams captain Will Allen. "Mike has to perfect what he does. He has to keep practicing and focusing on getting better. I know what Mike is capable of. I played with him in college and against him in high school. I know how good of a kicker he can be."
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