Just hours after the surprise release of punter Brent Bowden, Tampa Bay's sixth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Bucs general manager Mark Dominik discussed the move with PewterReport.com and the reasoning for signing former Green Bay punter Chris Bryan, who played in the Australian Football League.
In somewhat of a surprise move on Monday, the Bucs released punter Brent Bowden, who was selected in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, and replaced him with Chris Bryan, who spent the preseason with the Green Bay Packers.
Through four preseason games, Bowden has 20 punts for 729 yards, producing a 36.5-yard gross average. That’s about seven to 10 yards shorter than most NFL teams would ideally like, especially since Bowden is also averaging 35.9 yards net. Those averages were among the worst in the NFL in the preseason.
“Quite honestly, I was looking for more consistency from him,” Dominik said. “We expect that from every position on our football team. He was missing those big booming, 50-yard kicks. He needed to have one or two more big boomers.”
Don’t be surprised to see Bowden on Tampa Bay’s practice squad on Tuesday as there were some bright spots for the rookie. Only four of Bowden’s punts were returned for a whopping total of 11 yards (2.8 avg.) through all four preseason games, and the longest of return was only five yards. Five of Bowden’s punts were fair caught and a total of eight were downed inside the 20. The rookie from Virginia Tech did not have a touchback, either.
While Bowden did not exactly lived up to his nickname as the “Blonde Bomber,” he certainly helped Tampa Bay’s defense pin back its opponents and the Bucs were encouraged with his directional punting and the ability to place his kicks inside the opponents’ 20-yard line and avoid touchbacks.
Bryan, a native of Australia, was signed by Green Bay on March 16 after spending four years in the Australian Football League. He averaged 42 yards per punt with the Packers with a long of 57 yards during the preseason.
“He punted well in the preseason for the Packers,” Dominik said. “He also showed some holding ability. He was a good holder for them also. He had a 57-yarder and a couple of big punts. He was an Australian Rules Football player and had his first NFL opportunity with the Packers. He made it to the final cut and they had a tough decision there. When they did that, it kind of opened the door for us to really evaluate it and that’s why we went with him as our choice.”
Dominik said that the Bucs aren’t concerned with the fact that Bowden’s departure might interrupt the continuity of the team’s special teams battery just days away from the 2010 season opener as the rookie from Virginia Tech handled all of the holding duties for Connor Barth on field goal and extra point tries.
“If the young man hadn’t shown the ability to hold in the preseason then you would be concerned,” Dominik said. “After watching him hold, I was comfortable. If he hadn’t held in the preseason I would be pretty nervous about making that move. He looks very natural with the ball.”
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