Connor Barth, Tampa Bay's all-time leader in field goal accuracy, is ready for his next stint with the Bucs.
If there’s any bitterness about past dismissals, Connor Barth didn’t let on Wednesday afternoon.
The Bucs’ most-accurate field goal kicker in franchise history is just happy to be back on an NFL roster and preparing for Sundays again after spending the end of last season with the Denver Broncos. Barth went 15 of 16 on field goal attempts during five regular season games and 2 of 2 during Denver’s AFC Divisional Round playoff loss to Indianapolis, but still was let go this preseason.
Despite being the NFL’s 11th-ranked kicker of all time in terms of field goal accuracy (71 of 116, 83.3 percent), Barth was picked up and let go again by Tampa Bay this preseason in favor of rookie Kyle Brindza.
“It’s a business and I’m just looking forward to coming in here and hopefully helping this team win some games,” Barth said. “I think it’s pretty normal for a kicker. It’s very rare these days that you’re going to stick with one team, so you have to look at it as a business. There are 32 jobs and it’s just a blessing to be able to play wherever. To be one of the 32 guys again is pretty cool.”
The Brindza experiment proved to be short-lived and unsuccessful and the team turned right back to the eight-year veteran out of North Carolina. When asked if he’s in regular-season shape and ready to jump right into pressure-packed situations, Barth said he’s been preparing and working out every week as though he’s playing on Sunday.
“My job’s to make the kicks no matter what happens,” he said, also mentioning the small amount of preseason time working with long snapper Andrew DePaola and holder Jacob Schum. “We’ve had some work a few weeks ago so we’ll get back in a rhythm this week and hopefully have a good showing on Sunday.”
One of the reasons Tampa Bay liked Brindza was his stronger-than-average leg and ability to handle kickoff duties. Barth was relieved of that job from 2011-2012 when former punter Michael Koenen came in from Atlanta. He said a general perception that he isn’t as able to boom kickoffs out of the end zone may have slowed the process of landing with a new team.
“That’s probably one of the reasons,” Barth said. “I had the awesome luxury of having Mike [Koenen] here for a year and he’s, if not the best, one of the best at kickoffs in this league. It wasn’t because I couldn’t kickoff; I just didn’t have to do it. And when you don’t do something for three years, people just forgot that I could.
“I kicked off the first two years here from the 30, so it’s just about getting back into a rhythm. That’s the only way to do it. I’m looking forward to showing what I can do with that, actually getting a season where I can show what I can do in that aspect.”
One thing Barth hasn’t done in a regular season game is attempt extra points from the new 33-yard distance. The small fraternity of active (and recently released) NFL kickers is coming off a brutal week and there’s speculation among the media and fans about added extra-point pressures affecting kickers’ all-around confidence.
Barth said it’s probably premature to come to that conclusion but that consistency may be harder to come by at the position.
“I think it’s definitely going to make the accurate kickers a lot more valuable,” he said. “But at the end of the day, kicking’s 90 percent mental. Everyone in this league can kick, it’s just a matter of who can keep it together upstairs.
“I just think of it as a glorified extra point. It’s a little bit longer but as long as I keep my technique together I would like to say hopefully 100 percent of the time I would put that through from 33. Things happen but you’ve just got to go out there and trust in what you’ve done and trust your practice and go out and do it.”
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good luck C.B. Third time’s the charm.
Nail em all! Go Bucs!!!
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