After summer of rehab, Succop ready to pitch in

David Boclair

Ryan Succop has ended his share of games.

In his 10-year NFL career – the last five with the Tennessee Titans – he has delivered nine game-winning kicks in the fourth quarter or overtime, including two last season.

As his career has progressed, though, he has – in baseball terms – thought less and less as a closer and more and more as a starting pitcher. He is a guy who only wants to work every few days.

“The older I’ve gotten, I’ll actually kick a little less [in the offseason],” he said Wednesday. “I always say I’m kind of like a pitcher. A pitcher doesn’t want to go out and throw every day or else they’re going to run into problems with a shoulder and elbow. That’s kind of how I feel about kicking.

“So I’ve kind a limited that as the years have gone by. I would normally start kicking in May. Obviously, this year is a little different.”

This year has been a little different. Until recently, he had not kicked at all.

Offseason knee surgery limited his activity and caused him to start training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. The first time he put foot to ball, albeit a lightweight ball, was roughly two weeks ago.

He finally passed his physical on Monday and was returned to the active roster. Wednesday, he kicked during special teams periods in practice for the first time.

“It makes you realize how much miss being out here when you’re not able to be out here,” Succop said. “It’s awesome to be back. Getting out here (Wednesday) and being able to kick in teams was something that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. … I look forward to continuing to improve and to get better.”

The 32-year-old enters this season as the Titans’ leader in career field goal percentage at 86.6 percent (116 for 134) and one of five players in franchise history with at least 500 career points (he has 502). With a typical performance – he has topped 100 points each of the last three years – he will move to third on the Titans’ career scoring list.

What he will do for the remainder of the preseason and whether he will kick in a game prior to the Sept. 8 regular season opener at Cleveland, is yet to be determined. No matter what, he is not going to get in the number of offseason kicks he normally would, but he does not consider this a lost summer.

“The progress that I’ve made the last three or four weeks – it’s really taken off,” he said. “I feel really good about that.

“… You’re going to have little obstacles and stuff like that if you’ve been able to play in this league as long as I’ve been able to. Really, it’s been kind of neat to go through the [rehab] work and see it pay off. It gives you an appreciation to be able to be out here.”

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