Jaguars rookie kicker Myers takes unusual path to NFL
Several players stopped to listen. One yelled, ''I see you, J!'' Another added, ''It's show time.''
Myers suddenly felt the kind of pressure that comes with a game-winning field goal. The Jaguars can only hope he handles meaningful kicks the same way he did the crowded locker room.
''If you get caught looking too far ahead, stuff goes downhill,'' said Myers, who maintained his poise through all his teammates' playful jabs. ''So I'm just going one kick at a time.''
Myers became Jacksonville's place-kicker this week when general manager Dave Caldwell traded veteran Josh Scobee to Pittsburgh in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick in 2016. Even though Myers performed as well as Scobee during training camp and the preseason, going with a rookie is certainly a risky move.
Then again, no one seems to have doubts about the 24-year-old Marist graduate and former Arena Football League kicker.
''In the first few days (of minicamp), we could tell,'' punter Bryan Anger said. ''It was like, `Holy crap, this guy's got a cannon of a leg.'''
Myers has made four of five field-goal attempts in the preseason, including a 55-yarder. His only miss was from 58 yards out. He also has put seven of eight kickoffs in the end zone.
He has been equally impressive in practice, connecting on 19 of 20 tries between 40 and 53 yards.
So even before the trade, there was a decent chance the Jaguars were going to choose Myers over Scobee anyway.
''Hopefully we have a solution here for 10 or 12 years just like Josh has been,'' Caldwell said. ''I'm not going to hang on every missed kick because I promise you he's not going to make them all. Although I would like it, very few have gone 100 percent in an NFL season. So there will be missed opportunities. We're just going to live with them and grow with them.''
Myers missed a bunch in college, making his path to the NFL far from typical.
He made 24 of 38 attempts in four years at Marist, with a long of 49 yards, and hit just 5 of 10 as a senior. He also missed eight extra points. Scobee, by comparison, missed five extra points in his first 11 professional seasons.
Myers didn't get a single NFL tryout after college, so he spent last season playing for Arizona and San Jose in the AFL.
He also kept working with former NFL kicker Mike Husted, who lives in the San Diego area where Myers grew up. Husted worked with Myers a few times in college and then started tutoring him three days a week last summer.
''I grew confidence through that,'' Myers said. ''Working with those guys really helped me know that I can kick at this level and that I belong.''
The Jaguars spotted Myers at the National College and Pro Specialists Camp in Mobile, Alabama, in late February. They immediately noticed how quickly he got the ball off, his distance and his higher-than-average trajectory.
''Within a week, we brought him into Jacksonville for a workout,'' Caldwell said. ''His leg strength was eye-catching and his accuracy on field goals was very good.''
So when Myers signed with the Jaguars in March, he looked more like a polished pro than an erratic collegian.
''His story is crazy,'' Anger said. ''Coming through high school, didn't get any looks. After college, didn't get any looks. To be able to make it to the NFL with as little of exposure as he's had, it's awesome. He's a great story.''
And the Jaguars are confident Myers will be around for some time.
''As you know with kickers ... once they get an opportunity, they stick for a long time,'' Caldwell said.
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