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Mike Nugent Believes He Can Win The Giants’ Kicking Job

If competition brings out the best in everybody, the Giants hope it will bring out the best kicker for them

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Kickers are rarely thought of unless things are at best tense and at worst going horribly awry. But in those tense circumstances, you want to have a good kicker on your team.

Conventional wisdom says that to get the best out of a player, he needs competition.

That is exactly what the New York Giants did when they brought in 13-year veteran kicker Mike Nugent — most recently of the Cincinnati Bengals — to compete with 22-year old Aldrick Rosas.

Nugent was added to fill the roster spot vacated by the surprising retirement of rookie safety Jadar Johnson. The Giants seized upon the opportunity for competition, head coach Ben McAdoo said, "I think competition's good at every spot."

He added, "We thought it was a good time. We thought at some point in time that we were going to add a kicker to create some competition, we just weren't sure when we were going to pull the trigger. We thought it would be a good idea this spring to get Aldrick all the kicks, get a good foundation underneath him and provide competition at the end."

For his part, Nugent is in Giants’ camp to win a job.

“I think it is important especially because,” he said, “now going into my 13th year this year, you get the question of if you still want to keep kicking. It’s never been in my mind to retire or anything like that. It’s something that other people may be thinking age-wise. I think it is important to get in camp and get a feel for the guys and be back out there and be doing everything that you would be doing as if it was just any other season.”

Rosas told reporters that he was looking forward to competing with Nugent, and to learning everything he can from him. It’s one of the unique aspects of a young player competing with a veteran for a job in the NFL. Very often, the veteran winds up teaching tricks of the trade to a player who threatens to force him out. Nugent is taking that same view for himself.

“I feel like I can say the same thing,” Nugent said. “We were talking a little bit today about how it’s kind of like if you’re trying to run sprints. When you’re by yourself, you’re just running at your own pace, but if there are a few people next to you, it’s something where you can keep up with the other guy. I think both of us can keep an eye on each other and maybe he does something that I don’t feel like I do very well and can work on it, and vice versa. Hopefully, it’s one of those things where competition can bring out the best in both of us.”

Nugent does bring veteran savvy and an experience kicking in the Meadowlands. He came into the league as the kicker for the New York Jets, and is looking to use that experience to his advantage in pre-season, saying

“Probably the biggest thing, obviously I can’t say I know the stadium as much because I didn’t kick in the new stadium. I have kicked a few times there, but I do know how the wind works in there and how it works out here in the Meadowlands. It’s one of those things where I can try to remember some knowledge that I had back a few years ago.”

And while the Giants have expressed excitement about Rosas and his strong leg, Nugent believes that he has what it takes to win the competition.

“I don’t think I’d be here if that wasn’t true,” he said when asked if he could win the job. “So I’m really excited to get out there and just do my thing and apply what I’ve learned over the years. At the end of the day, it’s kind of like a golf tournament: it’s not so much about how everyone else does, it’s about how you do.”