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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Roberto Aguayo Feels the Love

Buccaneers rookie K Roberto Aguayo helped the Bucs beat Cleveland with a flawless night of kicking that rallied the Raymond James Stadium crowd to his side.

Marcus and Alisha Green, brand-new season pass members for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, attended the team's joint practice with the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday afternoon. Later that evening, Marcus was motivated to tweet at one of the Buccaneer players he and his wife saw in action that morning.

The Greens were also in attendance three nights later when the Buccaneers and Browns officially got together for a live game, Tampa Bay's 2016 preseason opener at Raymond James Stadium. When rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo, the target of that Tuesday tweet, took the field for the first time to try a 48-yard field goal in the first quarter, the Greens were happy to hear nearly-complete support for Aguayo from their section of the stands.

"We heard one nay-sayer but the rest of us showed our love," said Alisha. "He needs our love."

What Aguayo needed was the kind of game that Marcus predicted, a perfect night of kicking execution in his first exposure to the Buccaneers home crowd. Aguayo wasn't exactly in the midst of a crisis of confidence, as some might have believed, and he says he didn't really register the crowd reaction to his first jog onto the Raymond James Stadium field. But there's no denying that he had struggled with his kicks during the previous two weeks, and he admits he did hear the reaction when he drove a 48-yard field goal straight down the middle.

"I was just in the zone, just focused on what I had to do, the task at hand," said Aguayo. "After making that first field goal I did hear a good cheer, so that's always good."

That a kicker had become such a focal point in the middle of the preseason was the result of one missed extra point in the opener at Philadelphia and a pair of unsuccessful field goals the next week in Jacksonville, combined with the attention that comes from being a second-round draft pick. In addition, Aguayo missed a couple kicks in that Tuesday practice witnessed by the Greens, all of which was unexpected given his nearly spotless record at Florida State. If Aguayo's efforts on Friday night are any indication, that relatively small sample of struggles could prove to be a soon-forgotten blip on the radar.

"At the end of the day, professionals at any level of sports, sometimes you go through things, when things aren't clicking right," he said. "I just had to focus, lock in and do what I've got to do, do what I did at Florida State and all the years growing up. I really came into this game being calm and just kicking the ball.

"I've done this my whole life. I just sit back and think about my collegiate career. I just went back and realized how I got here and just doing what I do on a regular basis, not try to overthink it too much or put more pressure on myself. Just go out there and do what I do, and that's what I just did."

Indeed he did. The results were as good as they possibly could have been. Aguayo was sent out two more times after his first successful field goal, easily drilling 27 and 21-yarders. He also made all three extra points, which actually represents a higher degree of difficulty – essentially a 33-yard field goal – since the new rule was adopted moving the PAT line of scrimmage to the 15. On top of that, Aguayo was asked to kick off seven times, and he drilled all seven of them deep into the end zone for touchbacks.

Pictures from the Buccaneers' preseason matchup with the Browns.

"I'm just glad I went out there and did my job," he said. "I'm very happy I helped the team, especially on my kickoffs, too. The kickoffs were hit very well and I'm just proud that I was able to help the team as much as I could. That's what I've got to do every game."

Most of Aguayo's teammates came out onto the field to congratulate him after his first kick. That might have been a bit unusual for a preseason field goal, but it wasn't out of line with how he has been treated by the rest of the Buccaneers throughout training camp and the preseason.

"This team is built on family and these guys have got my back," said Aguayo. "That's one thing I've noticed since I got here and I've noticed through the preseason. It's not just one person, it's everyone. Everyone cheers for everyone when they make a good play. When I made that first one, and with every kick, they congratulate me. And vice versa – I go congratulate people who make good plays. That's how a team should be and how, at the end, it should work."

Aguayo also has plenty of support in the stands, which was evident in the Bucs' first chance to play at home in 2016. He'll surely gain even more fans if he continues to perform as he did on Friday night. Although, if he gets too proficient, they might actually stop paying attention to his kicks.

"It got to the point where, when he trotted out there the third or fourth time, I looked at my wife and said, 'It's good,' without even thinking about it," said Marcus Green. "You know he's a competitor. Him coming home and making the first couple kicks, I think that made everything right."

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