The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a new head coach, new winning philosophy and new uniforms. Everything on the compass rose is pointing in the right direction for the Bucs including the health of kicker Connor Barth and guard Carl Nicks.
Barth missed the entire 2013 season after tearing his right (kicking leg) Achilles tendon in a charity basketball game last summer. Some pigskin pundits thought Barth was done for his career and Tampa Bay groaned all year with the inconsistent play of Rian Lindell.
Barth was one of the top kickers in the NFL before the busted heal cord, never missing an extra point in his five-year career and making an astounding 93 percent of his field goals in 2011 and 86 percent in 2012. Barth is the definition of consistency and the TBB missed that in 2013.
Barth is back and says he is now making field goals from distances of 61 yards and had this to say about his recovery:
I think a lot of people doubted me more than I doubted myself. But as soon as I hurt it, I was in the hospital and I told my parents I would be fine. Everyone thought I just sprained it because I walked off the floor. But I knew what I did as soon as it happened. You never know what can happen, but all you can do is work as hard as you can. Probably in January when I really started to finally find my groove. As a kicker, I really started to feel that strength come back and that power. The biggest key is my push off to get to that plant (leg). It feels good. I'm kicking the ball great. I'm ready to go back to work.
Also looking to be ready for training camp is guard Carl Nicks. Nicks only played in two games last season as he battled a toe injury and the dreaded Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection.
Nicks is working hard to get back on the field and get back to being one of the more dominant guards in the NFL. The Bucs must feel Nicks is at that point because they traded center/guard Jeremy Zuttah to Baltimore for a 2015 mid-round draft pick prior to the 2014 NFL owners’ meeting in Orlando, Florida.
Trading Zuttah indicates that Nicks should be strong for 2014; otherwise, the club does not make that deal.
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