Roberto Aguayo got a rude awakening to life in the NFL, but the Bucs rookie is out to prove that first impressions aren’t everything.
The NFL honored Aguayo on Wednesday as the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. The award comes after he went 4-for-4 on field goal attempts and converted his lone extra point last Sunday in Kansas City. According to the league’s press release, Aguayo’s 13 points and four made field goals were the most of any kicker in Week 11 – a miserable weekend for players at the position. Kickers around the NFL combined for 12 missed extra points on Sunday alone.
“It’s cool,” Aguayo said from the locker room at One Buc Place on Wednesday. “I got a lot of opportunities and you’ve got to take advantage of any opportunities you get, especially in a game like that where it’s close and you know it’s going to be close in the end. Every opportunity you get you try to obviously do your best. But it was cool and definitely a little thing you can have in the back of your head and move forward and hopefully get a lot more.”
The award far from vindicates Tampa Bay and general manager Jason Licht for trading back into the second round of this year’s NFL Draft to select Aguayo out of Florida State, but it is a big step in the right direction.
After clanking his first-ever professional effort off the left upright – a preseason-opening extra point attempt in Philadelphia – the heat on Aguayo began cranking up quick. Two missed field goals in Jacksonville followed the next week and the troubles rolled into the regular season.
Week 2 – Missed field goal in Arizona.
Week 3 – Missed field goal and extra point against Los Angeles.
Week 5 – Two missed field goals in Carolina.
Along with those two misses on Monday Night Football in Carolina came a potential turning point, though. Tied 14-14, Aguayo jogged out and booted a game-winning 38-yarder that helped keep Tampa Bay from losing its fourth in a row and falling to 1-4 before the Week 6 bye.
“That game, highs and lows,” Aguayo said. “I missed two that game, so I wasn’t really happy with my performance. But at the end of the day I got the one that I needed to go in.”
Before the bye week, Aguayo was 4 of 8 on field goal attempts and 8 of 9 on extra points. It hasn’t been perfection in the five games since the bye, but he’s hit 9 of 10 field goals and 12 of 13 extra points. That run includes making his past seven field goals and points after.
In reference to persevering through the struggles and negativity, Aguayo said there isn’t much to do other than keep moving forward and not letting it drag him down.
“You just have to get through it. At the end of the day you grind through it. You always have to look at the light at the end of the tunnel and keep working and I knew my time was coming one of these games where I’d have to kick a lot and I’m glad we came out with a victory. It’s just a process. You just continue to work and be as consistent as I can be and finish out the season as strong as I can.”