The Buccaneers lost placekicker Connor Barth to an Achilles injury suffered while playing in a charity basketball game last weekend. During Thursday's press conference head coach Greg Schiano was asked about Barth's injury and if the former Tar Heel was contractually prevented from playing in the game.
The news of Connor Barth’s Achilles injury came as a shock to Bucs fans on Wednesday. A day later the news went from shock and concern, to will the Bucs be left holding the bag on Barth’s $2.3 million 2013 salary, that jumps to $3.15 million in 2014.
Head coach Greg Schiano was a bit evasive Wednesday at One Buc Place – and rightly so – as the matter most likely hasn’t been settled.
“The Connor Barth situation, I know everybody wants to talk about that a little bit so I will address it up front,” Schiano said. “It’s a shame that we lost a very consistent performer, a guy that we thought was a big part of what we were doing. We’re fortunate that in the spring we acquired Derek Dimke and then we were very fortunate that a guy like Lawrence Tynes was available. With the experience and the big game kicks he’s made, those two guys will give us a chance to have a good competition and make the best of a bad situation, so that’s where we stand there. Contractually and all those things, with the situation I’m not going to get into all that. That’s ownership. That’s not my field.”
In his post-practice press conference Schiano was asked if Barth had permission, or was even allowed to participate in the charity basketball game last weekend where the injury occurred.
“Contract have prohibitive language of what you are allowed to do and not allowed to do,” Schiano said. “It’s a fine line, right? Because you want guys to do things, but you have to do it in a controlled manner. Sometimes you can get the same benefit out of doing something in a drill type setting or in a free competition setting. It only comes up when something happens, right? But it’s certainly in the contractual language.
Barth has proven to be an offensive weapon with his ability to kick 50+ yard field goals – six last season, including a career-best 57-yarder – and replacing his 123 points won’t be easy. Most likely it will also affect the offensive gameplan, as Schiano wasn’t afraid to run Barth onto the field to attempt lengthy field goals. Instead you may see the Buccaneers punt on fourth-and-short from their opponent’s 39-yard line instead of lining up to attempt a three-pointer.
Currently Tampa Bay has rookie Derek Dimke and former Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes, who was signed on Wednesday after it was determined Barth would be lost for the season. Bucs fans should also note that punter Michael Koenen served as the Falcons long-yardage field goal kicker early in his career but with little success. Koenen is just 4-for-13 overall for his career, and 2-for-7 from 50 yards and beyond.
Wednesday, Schiano commented on Tynes ability to replace Barth’s strong leg.
“First off, we’ll see how that plays out,” Schiano said. “I thought Connor was a weapon in the longer field goal range, he was exceptional over 40 yards. So we’ll have to play that out. I have not coached Lawrence at all. I couldn’t tell you. I just look at the numbers. But we’ll see. That will all play out. There’s time for that.”
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