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Upon Further Review: Kicking competition heats up


Kickers Aldrick Rosas and Mike Nugent both hit two field goals in Friday's preseason game:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – This Giants kicking situation is getting very interesting, isn't it?

Aldrick Rosas and Mike Nugent accounted for all of the Giants' scoring in their preseason-opening 20-12 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last night in MetLife Stadium. Alternating opportunities, Rosas kicked three-pointers of 27 and 52 yards, while Mike Nugent added 30 and 45-yarders. All three of Rosas' kickoffs carried into the end zone, with one touchback. Nugent had two kickoffs, one that was fielded three yards deep, the other at the two-yard line.

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"We have one hell of a battle going on at the kicker spot," coach Ben McAdoo said on a conference call today.

The two contestants for the job could scarcely be more different. Rosas, 6-3 and 221 pounds, is a first-year pro whose NFL experience prior to last night was one preseason field goal last year for the Tennessee Titans. Rosas' collegiate career consisted of 15 games as sophomore at that traditional football power, Southern Oregon.

Asked after the game last night when he has last kicked a field goal of at least 50 yards, Rosas said, "in high school."

Nugent has kicked 12 such field goals in the NFL, including a 57-yarder in a 2014 AFC Wild Card Game in Indianapolis that is the second-longest postseason three-pointer in league postseason history. Should he make the final roster, this would be his 13th NFL season, and the Giants would be his fifth team. Nugent played for the Cincinnati Bengals the previous seven years. He has kicked 243 NFL field goals since the Jets selected him on the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft, after Nugent set 22 school records at Ohio State.

Although Nugent has competed in the past with younger kickers, his current duel with Rosas is different.

"I have before, but it's always been with a team that I've been with for a few years," Nugent said. "I was always very comfortable and worked with the same guys every day. Everyone has made it so easy, even though I've only been here (since Aug. 1). They're great guys to work with and very encouraging. The best part is we have a coach that does a good job making sure we're at our best when it's time to compete."

The highlight for each kicker was his long field goal. Even McAdoo was pumped up by Rosas' 52-yarder, which would have been good from far longer.

"It was exciting to see," McAdoo said. "I was champing at the bit even later in the ball game. We had the ball on the 35-yard line, but we were down by eight. I wanted to kick it there, but I also wanted to give the guys the chance to go down and give us a chance to tie the ballgame. It was exciting for him (Rosas) to get out there and see him make that kick. All the players around him were excited, too."

Nugent kicked his 45-yarder on the first possession of the third quarter. Experience has taught him that such kicks not only boost his own confidence, but those of new teammates as well.

"I'd be lying if I said that every kick feels exactly the same," Nugent said. "I think if you were 100% over 50, then you're hitting every ball exactly how you want. I feel that that is one thing I can work on. Hitting the same exact ball whether it is 20, 50 or 55 yards.

"It was one of those days where I just wanted to go out and be consistent. Over the years, I learned that you are going to keep playing this game every day if you're the same player every day. That's what I've been trying to focus on. Just being the same guy every day. I've had some times where it's been a little bit of a roller coaster and that one kick affected another. I'm just trying to take it one step at a time and making sure I'm ready to go the whole game."

Rosas was the Giants' only kicker from Jan. 19 until Nugent's arrival. But he welcomed the veteran, not so much for the competition, but for the knowledge Nugent can pass on.

"He's great," Rosas said. "We're both kicking the ball very well. There's a lot of questions I can ask him about, you know, how to warm up pregame. We're bouncing back and forth from each other and we're both competing, and we're both doing great."

Asked if he will continue to alternate the kickers' opportunities, McAdoo said, "They're in a competition. We want to keep things as even as we can."

That is one positon that will be fun to watch until cutdown day.

*McAdoo in his appraisal of quarterbacks Josh Johnson and Geno Smith:

"I think they both did some good things in the ball game, but there were definitely some inconsistencies," he said.

Johnson started in place of Manning and completed five of 10 passes. Smith relieved him and hit 10 of 16 throws.

*Darian Thompson started at safety next to Landon Collins, his first game since suffering a foot injury vs. New Orleans last Sept. 25.

"I thought that Darian was a little rusty, but it was good to see him knock that rust off as he played a little more in the game," McAdoo said. "We count on it as really another rookie year for him. But we count on him improving with reps."

*In his first game as the starting middle linebacker, second-year pro B.J. Goodson had one tackle – an eight-yard sack of Joshua Dobbs.

"I think B.J. got off to a good start at the positon," McAdoo said. "He had a nice rush in there and he's a physical player, and we look forward to him continuing to develop and get better."

*Defensive tackle Robert Thomas, who missed the game because of soreness, will "start working back into the mix tomorrow," McAdoo said.

*Linebacker Keenan Robinson remains in the NFL concussion protocol.

*McAdoo had a short injury report.

"(Safety) Duke (Ihenacho) felt his hamstring in the ball game, and (linebacker) Calvin Munson fell on his knee, but it doesn't seem to appear to be anything serious at this point. More of a contusion."

*The Giants next play on Monday night, Aug. 21, in Cleveland.

*Rookie linebacker Jimmy Herman, who was signed on Friday, was waived.

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