Two days after signing with Tampa Bay, Connor Barth was out practicing on a familiar field at One Buc Place Friday. And he’s glad to be back.
“I feel comfortable here,” Barth said. “I made my choice and I’m looking forward to putting pads on tomorrow night and going back out there. I’ve played a bunch of games in (Raymond James Stadium), so it’ll be fun, kind of a cool thing to see again… It feels great to put these colors on.”
Barth joins incumbent Patrick Murray, who beat him out during preseason last year, as one of the team’s two kickers on the roster. And although they’ll be competing for the second straight season, Barth said they have a good relationship and that he understands it’s a business.
“Pat and I are good friends,” he said. “We came and talked immediately, nothing about football just kind of about life. It’s very rare that one guy stays with a team their whole career anymore; that’s just the way it is. You come in and it’s almost like a contract, just a business. You have to look at it like that. You have to build the best team you can and hopefully win a Super Bowl. (Murray and I) will just come in, shake hands and compete. We’ll be laughing and having fun off the field and that’s the way it is.”
While the atmosphere and competition is identical to last year’s – Barth said it felt like deja vu – the 2015 season brings about new kicking rules, as extra points are now 33 yards out. Barth acknowledged that PAT’s aren’t automatic anymore, but had full confidence in his ability. In fact, he even suggested altering the goal posts in an effort to make kickers even more valuable.
“It’s kind of funny, you line up for games and you’re like, ‘God this is for one point (laughs)?’,” Barth said. “On extra points last year, and years before, you could just go out there, take it for granted and just swing. But now you really have to focus, especially if it gets blocked because they can return it for points. It’s a big difference in the game, so you have to go out there and concentrate. Again, it’s still 33-yards and I expect to make that every time.
“I wanted to narrow the uprights; that would be cool. It would make play-calling different and it would just make guys who a bit more accurate rather than big legs to really thrive.”
No matter what happens over the next two weeks – whichever kicker wins the job – Barth seems like he’ll make it out just fine. After his fifth team change in eight seasons, the 29-year old kicker knows never to get too comfortable in this league and has even started planning for life after football.
“You just kind of take (playing football) for granted a little bit, coming out to practice everyday,” Barth said. “But now I enjoy every day I’m out here because you never know when it’s going to be your last. I actually got a chance to work on some stuff off the field, entrepreneurial stuff. I’m just kind of looking at things past football now, because you never know how long it’s going to last. It’s been fun and I have a great supporting cast.
“My parents will be down tomorrow, they never miss a game no matter where it is. It’s been good. It’s been crazy, but that’s the NFL. It stands for Not For Long, that’s the way I look at it. It’s been a good ride and you have to enjoy it now.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Too bad he didn’t bring his kicking foot to the Cleveland game.
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