The Bucs quarterback competition has dominated the headlines, but it isn’t the team’s only key positional battle.
Two weeks into the preseason the Tampa Bay Bucs quarterbacks have been locked in a clash that has been a fixture in the Tampa media news cycle. Baker Mayfield versus Kyle Trask has been the topic of discussion since Baker Mayfield signed with the Bucs in March. While the quarterback competition, through two preseason games, has left arguments to be made for either passer, as both Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask have shown flashes and had their own respective moments— Another competition which has not been as close or as closely followed by the conventional media outlets is the team’s special teams battle at kicker.
The Tampa Bay Bucs chose to move away from Super Bowl Champion Ryan Succop, after the veteran kicker had his worst season in the pewter and red during 2022. Going 31 for 38, Succop’s 81.6 percent accuracy marked a nearly nine point dip since Tampa’s Super Bowl season. To replace the former Mr. Irrelevant, the Bucs brought in Chase McLaughlin. Though McLaughlin is just 27 years of age and entering year five of his pro career he has already bounced between six different NFL franchises. With a career kick accuracy checking in lower than Ryan Succop’s 81.6 of 2022, McLaughlin wasn’t handed the job without contest.
Months after his signing, in June, the Bucs signed another former Indianapolis Colts kicker in Rodrigo Blankenship. Blankenship, unlike McLaughlin, does boast a better than 81.6 percent kick accuracy, however he has not been able to play a full slate of games since 2020. Additionally, in the games he has played, Blankenship has been under 80 percent on his kicks since his stellar rookie season.
The Bucs have spent their field goal and extra point attempts this preseason alternating kickers to give both McLaughlin and Blankenship opportunities to show their worth. Through two games, McLaughlin has yet to miss a kick. In same amount of total kicks (4) McLaughlin has been perfect (1/1 on field goal attempts, 3/3 on extra points). Blankenship’s four attempts have been less successful (2/4 on field goal attempts). Kicking at just 50 percent, being picked up second in the offseason, having an inconsistent history— Blankenship looks likely to be the odd man out in this competition.
Both McLaughlin and Blankenship remain on the Bucs roster so the kicking battle will continue on, for at least a little while longer.
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