The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are using training camp and the preseason to determine whether they're placekicker in 2019 will be Cairo Santos, who they signed for the final seven games of last season, or Matt Gay, who they drafted in the fifth round in April. So far, it looks like they'll be choosing between two attractive options.
As we noted yesterday, Santos got the veteran privilege of going first on the opening day of camp and was nearly perfect, only missing his last attempt from 55 yards out. Saturday brought Gay's first shot and he answered his veteran teammate's salvo quite impressively.
Good, right? Well, apparently Gay was even better than that. As it turns out, that mid-practice tweet might be some, um…incomplete reporting. According to Head Coach Bruce Arians, Gay was actually perfect on 10 tries, not nine, during the field goal period. So that's one miscount and one misinterpretation.
"The one he hit the upright, you can tell that upright's bent," said Arians. "That would have gone, too. He was 10 for 10. Cairo had a great set yesterday, and just missed from 55. This is a heck of a competition."
Indeed, the goalposts right in front of the Buccaneers' indoor facility are currently tilted a bit to the left, and Gay's one close kick struck the right upright and came out. It might have actually bounced off the post and through but there is also a net strung between the uprights on that particular set of goalposts. The net is there to reduce the number of times the glass on the indoor facility is struck by footballs, but Gay thwarted that by hitting most of his field goals over the net. That includes the final one he made from 57, which cleared the net and hit the building behind above the glass.
"That was a bomb," said Arians. "I don't think I've ever seen one from 57 go over the windows."
Whatever the final count, Gay handled his first NFL training camp field goal drill calmly and with great accuracy, driving one kick after another down the middle and keeping pace with his more established competitor. The Buccaneers spent a useful draft pick on Gay in part because they appreciated his leg strength, hoping to land a kicker who could be trusted to make kicks routinely from beyond 50 yards. So far, so good.
"He's got, obviously, a very powerful leg," said Arians.