The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicking competition continues to be, pound-for-pound, the greatest show of the NFL offseason.
And this baby is just heating up.
First, a quick refresher: Last year, the Bucs traded up in the draft to select Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round. Aguayo proceeded to bomb as a rookie, prompting Tampa Bay to sign veteran Nick Folk to a contract that included $800,000 in guaranteed gwap. Shortly after, Folk dropped the now iconic battlecry, "I have a family to feed." Translation: I came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass and I'm all out of bubblegum.
No one would have been surprised if the two specialists showed up to OTAs in warpaint.
Folk got out to an early lead in the competition, going 4 of 4 on kicks through narrow goalposts. (Who knew narrow goalposts were even a thing before AGUAYO-FOLK I?) Aguayo went just 1 of 4, prompting this legendary dispatch from JoeBucsFan.com:
The first clanked the right goal post from 30 yards. After his third effort, practice went silent. You could hear a pin drop. Ninety players plus coaches, many just BSing and drinking water during the kicking period, were quiet.
But the move from OTAs to mandatory minicamp has been good for Aguayo's mind, body and job security. "The Kid" was perfect on Tuesday, going 5 of 5 including a bomb from 54 out (Long-distance kicks were particularly troublesome for Aguayo as a rookie). Folk made four closer kicks but failed to convert on his 50-yarder. (The final attempt peppered the right upright -- delicious!) This prompted Bucs coach Dirk Koetter, in what some may consider an unusual move, to declare Aguayo the winner of that particular day of football practice.
"Roberto got the best of it today and looked good and Nick looked good," Koetter said, via ESPN.com. "Nick's was a little bit short. Roberto hit five clean ones, so that's what competition is."
That's. What. Competition. Is.
Fast forward to Thursday, the final day before the Bucs go dark before training camp. Koetter, a master motivator if ever there was one, dangled a carrot. If his two kickers could convert four consecutive kicks, practice would end -- and vacation would start early.
This was the greatest test yet.
The stakes were through the roof.
Both men were up to the challenge.
Swarmed by teammates? Are you freaking kidding me? HBO and NFL Films should seriously consider making Aguayo-Folk I the sole focus of Hard Knocks in August. Why busy yourself with frozen hamburger when the football gods have gifted you with filet mignon?
To be continued ...