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PostPosted: Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:14 am 
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TAMPA Zach Gentry Jersey , Fla. (AP) — For the second time in four NFL drafts, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have selected one of the best kickers in college football.They can only hope Utah’s Matt Gay, the 2017 Lou Groza Award winner, doesn’t turn out to be another Roberto Aguayo.The Bucs took Gay early in the fifth round on Saturday, ending a string of five consecutive selections used to secure help for one of the league’s worst defenses.“He’s a big guy with a big leg, and he’s also accurate,” general manager Jason Licht said.“That’s a big selling point. Strong-legged guys that can kick it from far distance usually have some accuracy issues,” Licht added. “This guy has not, so far.”In two college seasons, Gay set a school record with eight field goals of 50-plus yards and compiled the second-best career field goal percentage (86.2 in Utes’ history by converting 56 of 65 attempts.Gay said the Bucs stayed in touch with him in the weeks leading up to the draft but never provided an indication that they had “extreme interest” in him. He said he thought he might be drafted in the sixth or seventh round, so he was surprised when the phone rang earlier than expected.“I got a call, it was a Tampa number. I looked at the board and saw they were two picks away,” Gay said. “I was kind of like, ‘No way, not right now.’ … It was amazing, honestly.”Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson was Tampa Bay’s first pick on the final day of the draft, landing with the Bucs in the fourth round after the club added linebacker Devin White Nick Bosa Jersey , cornerbacks Sean Bunting and Jamel Dean, and safety Mike Edwards over the previous two days. They finished by taking speedy Bowling Green receiver Scotty Miller late in the sixth round and Missouri defensive tackle Terry Beckner, Jr., with the first pick of the seventh round.In all, six of the team’s eight selections are defensive players. Offensive line and running back are areas of need that Licht and coach Bruce Arians did not address in the draft.“We’ve stood pat so far,” Licht said, speaking specifically about the offensive line. “I say time and time again, we’re not lining up tomorrow to play regular season week one. We still have time.”Gay played two years of soccer at Utah Valley before spending the past two at Utah, where he made all 40 of his extra points and was 30 of 34 on field goal attempts to win the Groza award as the nation’s top kicker in 2017.Aguayo also was a Groza winner during a standout career at Florida State. The Bucs traded up 15 spots to select him in the second round of the 2016 draft, only to release him following a disappointing rookie season.Gay will compete for a job with incumbent kicker Cairo Santos, who joined the Bucs early last season after one of the team’s key offseason acquisitions, Chandler Cantanzaro, got off to a slow start and was cut.“We’ve exhausted everything we can to find a kicker. We’ll continue to, like every other position,” Licht said of the decision to select Gay.“To me, to us, it was a small price to pay to get a kicker L.J. Collier Jersey ,” the GM added. “You wouldn’t say the same thing for a receiver. If a receiver didn’t work out a couple of years ago and you took him in the second round, would you be afraid to take a receiver in the fifth round? No. It’s a very, very important position.” Forget Carrie Underwood. Well, don’t forget her, she’s terrific.But the NFL’s theme song these days belongs to Maren Morris, Zedd and Grey. You know, “Meet Me In The Middle.”That’s where a bevy of NFL teams sat through Week 14 — all with shots, both reasonable and long, at making the playoffs.Take a deep breath and consider:—Seattle and Dallas at 8-5.—Pittsburgh at 7-5-1.—Indianapolis, Baltimore, Tennessee and Miami at 7-6.—Minnesota at 6-6-1.—Philadelphia, Carolina, Denver and Washington at 6-7.—Green Bay and Cleveland at 5-7-1.And, yes, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Cincinnati and the New York Giants at 5-8.All are alive for the postseason.Even Atlanta Marquise Blair Jersey , at 4-9, if you can imagine, isn’t eliminated.Just what the league loves heading toward Christmas: charity for nearly all.So let first-year Titans coach Mike Vrabel play the Grinch, trying to ignore any playoff chatter as his team heads to the Meadowlands to face the Giants.“We haven’t talked much. We try to eliminate all the scenarios,” he says. “The only scenario that we try to focus on is our preparation right now as we head into a road game against the Giants.“You could talk about scenarios all day. There’s scenarios where the Dolphins give up two punt blocks and score on a 70-yard hook-and-ladder; a scenario where a player jumps offside on a third-and-1 in a four-minute situation; a situation where a team executes a 50-yard hook-and-ladder and then the kicker slips. Those are all the scenarios that are crazy that happen in this league every week, so the one we’re going to try to focus on is our preparation versus the Giants.”Fair enough, because all of the playoff-qualifying scenarios for this week are enough to spark a migraine.The questions that should be raised are:—Is all of this competitive balance or simply mediocrity? Oasis or swamp?—Is it good for the NFL that such spiraling messes as the Falcons and Bengals remain in the running?—Do people really want to see a .500 (or worse) team playing in January, perhaps against a 14-2 opponent?LEVEL OF PERFORMANCENearly all the teams in the middle of the standings belong there. It’s fair to point out that the Redskins, Bengals and Falcons have been severely damaged by injuries — hey, Cincinnati was once 4-1 and Washington held the top spot in the NFC East until its current four-game slide.Still, there’s a flawed bunch of “contenders” for the playoffs. They are profiting because they are keeping company with equally blemished clubs.All of them have had impressive stretches and pretty much unwatchable ones, though Seattle and Dallas probably don’t deserve to be lumped with the stragglers because they seem to be legitimate threats to do something in January.What’s missing with the others is the consistency that the top teams possess. Look at the Colts, who went from 1-1 to 1-5, then won five in a row, only to get blanked at lowly Jacksonville before going to Houston, the league’s hottest team, and winning.FORGET THEMDo fans in Atlanta and Cincinnati and Washington envision any sort of turnaround in the final three games that would lift those teams into the postseason? Do those clubs’ front offices?They shouldn’t D.K. Metcalf Jersey , even as the NFL boasts that 26 teams still have a shot at the Super Bowl.One likely good thing about such deficient teams being in the running in mid-December is that it should cool talk of expanding the playoff field — something that virtually would guarantee impostors getting in.MISMATCHESOnce in a while, a team scrapes into the postseason and catches fire. Wild-carders have won the Super Bowl often enough to keep that dream alive once you get in.But should, say, a 7-8-1 Packers or 8-8 Lions sneak in, does that make for must-watch TV in the playoffs? Is a game with 8-8 Miami at 12-4 Houston enticing?SEEDINGSWhat is nice about the chase in December is the intrigue of seedings. The general feeling in the AFC is that avoiding a trip to Foxborough in January is necessary. So, the other division winners not only want and likely need to win their games, they’re hoping the Patriots, currently seeded second, don’t win out. Kansas City tops the conference right now, but barely.The NFC is a two-team race for the top spot between the Saints and Rams, who met in a high-scoring affair won by host New Orleans in early November. Both are 11-2, making their final three weeks critical in that race.And then they have the prospect of sitting out wild-card weekend while a team or two emerging from the quagmire stokes up its fan base before probably getting routed.


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