In the case of the Bucs’ woeful kicking saga, an old face had returned to One Buc Place in hopes of rectifying a problematic area for the team since the Buccaneers drafted Roberto Aguayo in the second round in 2016.
Pat Murray was all smiles on Tuesday when he met with the media for the first time since being signed to replace Nick Folk following an open tryout of five other hopefuls.
Murray said it felt natural to be back.
“It felt great, it felt like I was back home,” Murray said. “It is good to go out there and kick on those fields and there is quite a facility being built out there and I am looking forward to using it.”
Murray was Tampa Bay’s kicker in 2014 and hit on 83.3 percent of his kicks (20-of-24), including 5-of-6 from 50 yards and beyond, but an injury in training camp allowed Connor Barth to assume the kicking duties in 2015. Murray signed with Cleveland in 2016 where he was 1-of-2 before another injury cost him the rest of the season.
“Thanks be to God, I have a tremendous team behind me and they have helped me a lot,” Murray said. “They have helped me a lot over the last two years and it feels better than it ever has so I am looking forward to putting it to use.”
Being back at One Buc was kind of surreal feeling as Murray explained.
“We were laughing about it yesterday, it has kind of come full circle,” Murray said. “It is a journey, and more than ever I believe God does have an plan for everything and God’s timing is never wrong. The two injuries I had were supposed to happen. There is a reason for that. I am supposed to be back here. There is a reason for that as well. And I am just ready to embrace this opportunity.”
While Murray stayed busy training, he also kept an eye on his former team and their kicking struggles.
“You hear about it, it is hard not to,” Murray said. “Bucs fans were certainly reaching out – I love those fans and love being back here – so I can’t wait to go play for them. But at the same time I needed to focus on what I was doing. I was doing the job hunt. Trying to put my degree to use. It was fun and it kept me busy, but I was training with my father and luckily it worked out.”
Murray told the media that he is okay with the pressure, but doesn’t necessarily think it is any harder on a kicker than other positions in the NFL.
“I think there is pressure at every position in this league not so much the kicking aspect of it, and truth be told whatever happened in the past is in the past,” Murray said. “I am looking forward to Sunday , and that is all I can control I am looking forward to putting some points on the board.”
As his time with the media was wrapping up, PewterReport.com asked Murray if he was a better kicker than he was two years ago.
“I am a better man. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually I am a better man. So absolutely I am a better kicker.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at email@example.com