Connor Barth, who missed all of the 2013 season, announced on Sunday he has been cleared by doctors to return to action. Tampa Bay struggled early last season to find a replacement for Barth's consistency.
With the first opportunity to meet his news team and address them with the start of offseason workouts beginning Monday morning, Bucs head coach Lovie Smith will have another 2013 injured member of the team at 100 percent and ready to hit the field.
Bucs placekicker Connor Barth announced on Facebook that he had been cleared to return to the field.“Some of the best news I have gotten in a while! I have been cleared by the doctors to play this year! It's time to go! #itsabucslife #bucsnation”
Barth was injured on the eve of training camp last year, tearing his Achilles tendon in a charity basketball in his home state of North Carolina. Barth underwent surgery and has been rehabbing over the last seven months.
After Barth’s injury last summer, Tampa Bay brought in Lawrence Tynes a free agent from New York. But a toe injury eventually became infected and Tynes contracted the antibiotic-resistant MRSA strain of staph. After Tynes was designated to the non-football injury list, which caused national attention when Tynes’ wife Amanda took to twitter to voice her displeasure with the Bucs organization, the Bucs signed former Bills kicker Rian Lindell as a free agent.
Lindell, struggled initially before settling in and have a solid season, going 23 of 29 on field goals with a long of 54, and converting all of his extra point attempts (31/31).
While Lindell’s accuracy eventually improved the Buccaneers missed Barth’s consistency and ability to hit from 50-plus yards. Barth is a career 84.2 percent kicker, making 101 of 120 NFL field goal attempts and all of his extra point attempts (134/134).
Two weeks ago Bucs running back Doug Martin also received clearance from the doctors to return to action after having shoulder surgery last season to repair a torn labrum.
The Buccaneers begin their offseason program on Monday, as one of the teams in the NFL who had a coaching change, therefore allowing them to start a week early. The first phase of the offseason workouts will consist primarily of meetings and conditioning. The Buccaneers will host their first three-day voluntary minicamp under Smith beginning on April 22. The team will also host a rookie minicamp on May 16 then have OTA’s before the final minicamp (mandatory) takes place beings for three days on June 10.
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