The kicking competition between Mike Nugent and Aldrick Rosas is coming down to the wire:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – For two people who met each other less than a month ago, Mike Nugent and Aldrick Rosas couldn't be closer, personally and professionally.
Nugent was signed by the Giants on Aug. 1 to compete with Rosas for the team's placekicking job. In three preseason games, they have alternated field goal attempts. Nugent has made all five of his and an extra point for a team-high 16 points. Right behind him is Rosas, who is four-for-four on field goal tries and two extra points for 14 points. Each kicker has three touchbacks.
"We continue to look at the kickers, and they continue to make everything," coach Ben McAdoo said. "They continue to do a nice job. It's a great competition, but we have to let the competition unfold."
That process will end Thursday night, when the Giants visit the New England Patriots in the fourth and final preseason game. With the mandatory roster cut looming on Saturday, McAdoo must then decide whether to keep Nugent, who has kicked 236 field goals and scored 1,052 points in 12 NFL seasons, or Rosas, who has never played in a regular-season game.
No matter the outcome, the contestants insist it will result in no hard feelings. Despite their age difference – Nugent is 35, Rosas is 22 – and just one job opening, they have become good friends while competing.
"It's definitely been fun," Rosas said. "I kind of don't look at it as a competition. We are both out there having fun, getting better every day, bouncing off of each other with positive energy and stuff, and a little feedback here and there. It's fun to be out there.
"Mike is a great veteran. There are a ton of questions I can ask him if I am trying to work on something, I am like, 'Mike, do you think you can watch this for me a bit?' The whole history and veteran-ness that Mike has, there are a lot of questions that he can answer, so it helps a lot."
Nugent said he's not only dispensing advice, but receiving it from his younger teammate.
"I think it has been great," Nugent said. "It's fun to bounce stuff off of each other, because we obviously have the same point of view on so many things. But if there is something going on, I can ask him, 'What do you do here?' Or he can ask me some of those things. I think we treat each other more like teammates than competing against each other."
Nugent was released by the Bengals last Dec. 13, near the end of his seventh season in Cincinnati. He had missed six extra points and six field goal attempts, both on 29 tries. Nugent was out of work until the Giants brought him in. He quickly fit in with his new team. Last Saturday against the Jets, he kicked field goals of 50 and 54 yards. He had never booted two 50-plus-yard field goals in any of his 158 regular-season and postseason games.
"It's one of those things where you are very lucky to get an opportunity like that," Nugent said. "I've had preseasons where in four games, we've attempted three or four field goals. I feel like we have attempted (nine) and a few extra points between the two of us, so it's great to get the exposure and get out there and show everybody that we are good enough to play this game for a long time."
Although he has been a successful kicker since entering the NFL as the Jets' second-round draft choice in 2005, Nugent is accustomed to spending his training camps with another kicker.
"When I was in Cincinnati, there was someone brought in every year," he said. "It was a situation where I was the guy that had the job the year before, but it I would feel like I always had to win the job. I went in every season thinking, 'Yes, I have experience kicking with the teams I was on previously that I can use to my advantage, but guys are kicking so well these days, and especially in a competition like that.' I always went in thinking it's not anyone's job to lose. The better kicker is going to play. The better kicker is going to start, so it really felt to me like every time I went in there, I really had to earn the job."
Rosas said he is also accustomed to competing for a job, though not nearly as often in the NFL. He was in the Tennessee Titans' camp last year, and attempted one preseason field goal. But veteran Ryan Succop was never in danger of losing his job.
At Southern Oregon University, where Rosas kicked in 2013-14, he was part of a group of kickers vying for the job.
"Going into college, they threw me in with three other kickers, so I have been in the competition atmosphere," Rosas said. "I feel like this year is the most fun, mostly learning and becoming a pro."
Now all they can do is continue to kick well in New England and make McAdoo's decision even harder.
"We're confident in both guys that they can handle all aspects of the job," McAdoo said.
But one of them won't be here next week.
"Realistically, there is only going to be one spot and we both know that in the back of our heads," Rosas said. "We just both go out there and do our job, do what we know how to do, and I think we will be taken care of at the end of the day."
"We know there is only one position available," Nugent said. "At that point you just feel like whoever that one guy is, hopefully the season goes great, and we will both be on the field and maybe play against each other at some point."
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