A day after Mike Nugent missed two of his four field goal attempts at Washington in Tampa Bay's 16-13 loss, the Buccaneers released their kicker. He was replaced by free agent Shane Andrus, who was signed earlier in the 2009 season to compete with Matt Bryant before Nugent was signed.
Andrus, who hails from Murray State, tried out for the Buccaneers on Monday. He is a first-year kicker that has never kicked in the NFL, although he has been in camps with the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants and on the Colts practice squad since entering the league in 2006. Andrus did have three kickoffs this year for the Colts, one of which was a touchback.
Nugent's misses against Washington were from 48 and 49 yards. Both kicks were wide right and cost the Bucs a chance to win their first game of the season. Nugent was brought in to make field goals from long distance, an area that Bryant had struggled in during the 2008 season.
"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."
"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.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org