Joseph Brought 'Calm' to Kicking Situation
No team struggled to find a consistent kicker more than the Tennessee Titans did last season.
Ryan Succop, who was the franchise’s leader in career field goal percentage prior to 2019, couldn’t stay healthy. After a promising start, Cairo Santos endured a day when he couldn’t make a field goal. Cody Parkey didn’t last long either. Combined, those three made eight of 18 field goal tries in 14 games.
The Titans didn’t have any luck until they signed Greg Joseph off of the Carolina Panthers practice squad in Week 16.
While many believe they still need to improve at the position, special teams coordinator Craig Aukerman said Joseph has the team’s full confidence as the 2020 season starts.
“You feel confident in a guy who does really well in practice too,” Aukerman said in a video press conference Friday. “It kind of settles down, not only you, but your team. That part really helped us out. So, in practice he did really well, and … it really helped us out because of the confidence he gave all of us in practice and during the games.”
It appears, therefore, as if it’s Joseph’s job to lose as training camp opens.
The 25-year-old out of Florida Atlantic played in just five games for Tennessee (the final two in the regular season, and three the postseason). He made all 18 of his extra-point attempts (nine in the regular season, nine more in the playoffs), but only tried one field goal, which he made in the AFC Championship at Kansas City.
“I thought he just did an excellent job there, making sure that he was really focused at the game,” Aukerman said. During the end of the year, there was going to be sometimes a possibility that we could go and kick field goals, but we ended up going for it on fourth down. Greg was ready to go. … He understands situational football and he understands that we need touchdowns instead of field goals sometimes. So, just happy to see him being ready at all times.”
Joseph will have competition, though.
At the conclusion of the NFL Draft, the Titans signed undrafted free agent kicker Tucker McCann. Over the course of four seasons at Missouri, McCann made 61 of his 84 field goal attempts, which is good for second most in school history. (second most in school history). One of the Titans 13 undrafted free agents who will compete for a roster spot this summer, he also made two field goals of 50 yards or more at Missouri, including a 57-yard field goal during his junior season (2018).
“The one thing that jumps out about Tucker is how strong his leg is,” Aukerman said. “The thing we’re going to work on with Tucker as far as being a little bit more consistent to provide that competition for Greg.”
There is also the possibility of the Titans bringing in a veteran option.
Earlier in the offseason, general manager Jon Robsinson didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing back Succop. More recently, Robinson said the Titans would consider kicking the tires on former Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
For now, Joseph, who appeared in 14 games for Cleveland as a rookie in 2018, has his chance.
“The big thing we told Greg going in is that the only way we could go is up,” Aukerman said. “Just go out there and do what you’ve done in your whole entire life, kick with confidence and make sure you’re mentally ready to go at any point and time during the game.”