After setting a stadium record in his first ever kicking attempt as a Buccaneer, Rookie Matt Gay is continuing to prove that he could be the guy to bring the Bucs out of their kicking slump. In practice on Sunday, he went 4 for 4 on kicks from 50 yards out and higher, and fans in Tampa Bay couldn’t be happier.
Matt Gay from 50: Good. From 55: Good. From 59: Good. From 61: GOOD. The crowd here is, shall we say, pleased.
— Scott Smith (@ScottSBucs) August 11, 2019
ESPN’s Jenna Laine also posted from practice, and got a video of the 61 yarder including a standing ovation from the fans.
I’ve never seen fans standing up to video a kicker in practice, but they’re doing that now for Matt Gay, and giving him standing ovations… pic.twitter.com/LIjH3nG0Mb
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) August 11, 2019
The one constant with the Bucs place-kicking situation over the past few years has been change, and it appears that veteran Cairo Santos who ended 2018 with the job, is going to have a legitimate competition to hang on to his spot entering into the 2019 season.
Santos came to the Buccaneers midseason a year ago, as their revolving door of kickers turned to him after Tampa Bay released veteran Chandler Catanzaro despite having guaranteed him $3 million in 2018 salary.
In April, the Bucs once again made the bold move of taking a kicker in the draft, when they took Utah All Pac-12 kicker Matt Gay in the fifth round.
The snickers and laughter were almost immediate around the league, as the Bucs are the same team that took former Florida State All American kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round in 2016. Then, after an inconsistent rookie season, where Aguayo missed more combined extra points and field goals than any other kicker in the NFL, Aguayo was released in the preseason of 2017.
As for Gay, we wrote previously that he has not lacked for confidence in coming in and wanting to take the job. He had a decorated college career that included, making 56 field goals with an 87% conversion rate during his two-year career in Salt Lake City for the Utes.
Gay’s best season was 2017, where he won the Lou Groza Award for the nation’s top place-kicker making 30 of 34 field goals and 40 of 40 extra points. Gay was also named consensus first team All-American that year.
Gay’s impressive kicking at practice on Sunday comes on the heels of his recording breaking 55 yard kick in the Bucs first preseason game against the Steelers Friday night. So far, he’s proven to have a strong leg that could finally give the Bucs a break from worrying about a game falling on the kicker.
But of course, none of this matters until they can start making kicks in the regular season. But, Gay is certainly giving fans hope of finally having some consistency in this area.
Positive injury update news for Bucs DT Vita Vea
Bucs coach Bruce Arians gave another positive update Sunday on one of his star defensive players he’s counting on to come back from injury. It looks like hulking defensive tackle Vita Vea is still on track to potentially play in the season opener September 8th.
After the Buccaneers Sunday morning training camp workout, Arians was asked, if there was any new news on Via resting and rehabbing the sprained ligament in his left knee? He told the media:
"Obviously, when you’re put in game-winning situations and your young players perform, you’re proud of them, and they did exactly that."
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 18, 2019
“He’s getting better and better everyday. No pain (in the knee). So, I’ve got my fingers crossed that he’s gonna be ready (opening day),” Arians said plainly.
The former first-round pick a year ago out of the University of Washington was injured almost two weeks ago in a one-on-one pass blocking drill, crumbling to the ground with the Bucs and their fans holding their breath. However it turns out it was only a sprain ligament that did not require surgery and Vea could still possibly play at the beginning of the regular season, including the opener with the 49ers.
Vea was seen walking on the sideline Friday night during the Bucs preseason game with the Dolphins with the aid of a heavily braced left knee.
This is the second straight training camp that Vea has been sidelined with a significant injury. Last year, he suffered a torn calf muscle on the second day of workouts and missed all of the preseason and the first three games of the regular season recovering from the injury and getting into playing shape.
When he did comeback, Vea came on strong in the second half of the season and began to show signs of promise, as to why the Bucs had picked him in the top 15 of the draft. He had a career high nine tackles in a December game in Baltimore and was all over the line of scrimmage and the backfield causing disruptions.
Then, in Dallas the following week, he was once again making plays early in the game. Although, he had a first-half sack Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott nullified by a face mask penalty, he got another one that counted by blindsiding Prescott on the final play of the first half.
Vea finished with three tackles, the sack and one tackle for loss in that game. And, in the second half of the season, he ended up with 28 tackles with three sacks and five tackles for loss in eight games.
Vea is being heavily counted on to help the interior of the Bucs defensive line in new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles’ 3 – 4 defense. He along with new free agent pro bowl veteran Ndamukong Suh are going to be the guys relied upon to get pressure up the middle for the defense.
Report- Bucs have extended GM Jason Licht’s contract
Hoping to practice some form of continuity, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly extended the contract of GM Jason Licht.
This after a report Saturday morning from Bucs beat writer for the Tampa Bay Times, Rick Stroud, that Licht has been given a five-year contract extension to remain with the team:
Bucs signed general manager Jason Licht to a new five year deal https://t.co/g8fswc0gyJ
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) August 17, 2019
A big part of the reason why the Glazer family, which owns the team, wanted to keep Licht is: his ability to lure former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians to come out of retirement and join them this past January.
Further, Stroud reports that Arians made it a condition of his coming out of retirement that Licht remain with the team long-term and that the Bucs keep embattled starting QB Jameis Winston.
Licht had been given a one-year extension for 2019 before this offseason, and the Buccaneers had already committed to keep quarterback Jameis Winston for the fifth year option of his rookie contract. Then, once former coach Dirk Koetter was fired in January, Licht’s previous relationship with Arians helped the Bucs get their new coach.
Licht was the assistant general manager with the Cardinals, when Arians was hired in 2013 and led them eventually to the NFC Championship Game in 2014.
Licht became the Buccaneers general manager at that the start of that same season, but has had a rocky tenure of results. This includes only one winning season out of five and several free agent moves and draft picks that have backfired.
None bigger than when Licht traded up in the 2016 draft for FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round, only to have Aguayo falter and be released the following year in training camp.
Licht has also had free agent busts like former Redskins defensive tackle Chris Baker and last year, Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry. Both of whom we’re paid heavily but did nothing in their one season before being released.
Licht and his staff do deserve some credit for finding unheralded players like tight end Cameron Brate, running back Peyton Barber and former wide receiver Adam Humphries. All of whom were undrafted and have been quality contributors over the last couple of seasons.
The team had no official comment on Stroud’s report of the extension.