TAMPA, Fla. — The struggles for Buccaneers rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo continue.
During Tuesday’s joint practice with the Cleveland Browns, Aguayo went 3 for 6 on field goal attempts, and Bucs fans booed him loudly.
“He’s struggling,” coach Dirk Koetter said after practice. “He’s struggling a little bit right now. He’s gotta work his way through it.”
The first miss came on his first attempt of practice at 35 yards out. After making the next two attempts, he backed up to 45 yards, and shanked it. He attempted a 45-yarder again and missed, with the ball sailing wide left.
Through two preseason games, he’s missed two field goals and an extra point. During his entire time at FSU, he was 198-for-198 on extra points and only missed nine field goals in three years.
“We’ve talked to him. He knows what he has to do. He’s working through it,” said Koetter, directing all questions about possibly bringing in another kicker to general manager Jason Licht. “I wouldn’t think that’s an option, but that would be a question for Jason.”
Koetter was asked if he believes Aguayo’s struggles are mental.
“I think so and I think he believes that,” Koetter said.
Aguayo admitted Monday that indeed, his confidence has been affected.
“I’d say a little bit, but in times like this, it builds you up so down the road in the future, you’re a lot stronger, ya know? You’ve got to have times like this where you struggle a little bit,” Aguayo said.
On Monday, Koetter put him on the spot at the end of practice and said that if he made a 50-yarder, the team could go home early. He made it, and his teammates celebrated with him. They also let him break the huddle. “I haven’t had that feeling in a long time … a game-winning kick,” Aguayo said.
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said it gave him a huge boost.
“It was big for him because he got to see what making his kicks can do for his team, how it can energize us when he makes his kicks.”
“He’s a rookie. He was drafted as a kicker, so a lot of expectations come with you being the guy,” said McCoy, who was selected third overall in the 2010 NFL draft and didn’t have a breakout season until 2013.
“With me not struggling right away with injuries, not living up to expectations, who better to go talk to him?” said McCoy, who tore the biceps in both arms his first two seasons and ended up on IR. “I just go and encourage him and say, ‘Hey listen, just stay the course. Just stay the course.”
Despite the boo-birds, several fans waited for Aguayo after practice to get his autograph and to offer words of encouragement. “We watched you all the way back at Florida State,” said one fan. “We have a lot of faith in you.”
Meanwhile, former Bucs kicker Patrick Murray, now with the Browns, went 4-for-4 on his kicks during the joint practice session. The Bucs waived him in May, two and a half weeks after drafting Aguayo.