K Doug Brien has made over 80% of his career field goal tries, including this one in Houlihan's Stadium in 1996
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' search for a temporary replacement for Martin Gramatica has fixed upon former New Orleans and San Francisco kicker Doug Brien.
Thursday evening, Brien was signed by the Bucs to a one-year contract, joining the team in time for Saturday's game against the Baltimore Ravens. Gramatica, who sustained a right hamstring strain Sunday against the Saints, may or may not be sufficiently recovered to kick in that game.
To make room for Brien on the 53-man roster, the Bucs placed safety Eric Vance on injured reserve. Vance has a knee sprain that has caused him to miss the last two games and has apparently struggled to recover, as he was downgraded to 'out' on this week's injury report. Vance, who saw action in 10 games this season and registered two tackles on defense and six on special teams, is the first Buccaneer to go on injured reserve since the preseason.
Brien and former New York Giants kicker Brad Daluiso worked out for the team at Raymond James Stadium Wednesday morning and Brien has remained in town since. The team was considering running Gramatica through a kicking drill at Thursday's practice but elected to give him one more day of rest before letting him try out the leg Friday morning.
Brien is a veteran of eight NFL seasons, split between the Saints (1995-2000) and the San Francisco 49ers (1994-95). During that span, Brien connected on 145 of 181 field goal attempts for an 80.1% career success rate. He was nearly automatic from inside 30 yards (40 of 42) and also proved strong on long-distance tries (14 of 22). Last year, Brien ranked seventh in the NFC with 106 points, succeeding on 23 of 29 field goal tries and all 37 of his extra points. He will wear jersey number 4.
On Thursday afternoon, Dungy suggested that the team would almost certainly sign another kicker in order to delay the decision on Gramatica's readiness until Saturday evening before the Ravens game. With this approach, the Bucs can continue to evaluate their own Pro Bowl kicker up until 7:30, then choose whether to make him or Brien inactive for the contest. Earlier in the week, Dungy ruled out the strategy of keeping both kickers active and letting Gramatica save his leg for field goals while the other performed kickoffs.
The last time Tampa Bay used two placekickers in one season was 1992, when Kevin Willis won the job in the preseason but was released midway through in favor of veteran Eddie Murray.