The winner of the competition between Aldrick Rosas and newcomer Mike Nugent will be the New York Giants’ fourth kicker in 17 games.Kicking in New Jersey this time of year is usually focused on the New York Red Bulls over at Red Bull Arena in Harrison. But for the second year in a row, the phenomenon takes center stage at nearby Quest Diagnostics Training Center, as the New York Giants see themselves once again dodging questions about their kicker.
NFL veteran Mike Nugent, returning to the New York/New Jersey area after being selected by the Jets in the second round of the 2005 draft, was signed by the Giants on Tuesday morning. He will be pitted in a competition against first-year man Aldrick Rosas, who signed a future/reserve contract in January.
Nugent, 35, did not kick in Tuesday’s practice session but met with the media afterward to discuss his return to the Meadowlands. He was with the Jets from 2005-08, tallying 308 points via 83 extra points and 75 field goals, posting an 82 percent accuracy on the latter. He added 10 more points in a single playoff game, a 37-16 loss to New England in the 2006 AFC Wild Card round. He recently ended a seven-year stint with the Bengals.
“It’s really cool to be back. I really like being back,” Nugent said. “I first got a little hint about what Giants fans are like when they came to play (the Bengals) in the first preseason game two years ago. There was great crowd support out there, so you can just tell there’s a great following.”
Nugent, who helped Ohio State earn the national title in 2002 and took home the Lou Groza Award two years later, comes over from Cincinnati, where he tallied 718 points and an 82 percent accuracy. Though Nugent’s Cincinnati tenure came to an unceremonious end, as released in December after a 4-for-9 stretch on extra points, he set a team record for points (132) and field goals (33) in 2011. He has also kicked for the Buccaneers and Cardinals, splitting time with each in 2009.
“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,” Nugent said of the upcoming competition. “I’ve always wanted to play 20 years. I’m going to see what I can do, make sure I stay in shape and try to keep up with the younger guys and to get to a point where the ball is going where I’m aiming it, and keep at it.”
Nugent visited MetLife Stadium twice as a Bengal last season. In the Bengals’ September visit to the Jets, Nugent played the hero against his former team, hitting a 47-yard try in the final minute to ensure a 23-22 Bengals Week 1 win. He later earned a perfect evening in a Monday night showdown in November against his new team. Despite the loss, Nugent made two field goals from 25 and 38 yards out and two extra points. Overall, he was 23-of-29 on field goals last season, his longest being that 47-yard winner against the Jets.
“Obviously I can’t say I know the stadium as much because I didn’t kick in the new stadium,” he said. “I’ve 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.”
The addition, made possible by the roster spot left behind by retiring safety Jadar Johnson, puts some pressure on Rosas, whom the Giants expressed confidence in throughout the offseason.
Despite the late addition, Rosas admitted he foresaw the Giants adding a competitor.
“Every day, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. It’s a process,” Rosas said. “I knew (bringing in another kicker) was going to be in the plan for awhile. When I got signed, they told me they were going to have two kickers. So I always knew in the back of my mind (it was happening).”
Rosas, who spent time with Tennessee last preseason, has yet to appear in an NFL regular season game. The young kicker, however, found positives from the Nugent addition.
“Mike’s a great guy,” he said. “I got to talk to him a little bit, ask him questions about his whole career. It’s great to have him out here, I’m excited to have him out here. Having Mike out here, there’s an extra guy I can talk to, I can look at, kind of emulate what he’s doing. He’s a great veteran. It’s good to see him go to work.”
Rosas, 22, let his play on the practice field do the talking. In a special teams period, he took all four field goal attempts, each from between 34 and 50 yards, and sailed each one through the uprights.
“I felt good. The whole snap, the whole operation, it felt really clean,” Rosas said. “It goes back to fundamentals. It’s coming along, but the operation feels really good.”
Giants head coach Ben McAdoo embraced the competition and is looking forward to seeing it play out.
“We thought at some point in time we were going to add a kicker to create some competition, we just weren’t sure when we were going to pull the trigger,” McAdoo said. “I think competition is good at every spot. So we have some competition, that’s good.”
Whoever wins the competition between Rosas and Nugent will be the fourth different kicker to suit up for the Giants over the past calendar year. The team enjoyed consistency from Josh Brown, the team’s kicker since 2013, but Brown was suspended and subsequently released amidst a domestic violence incident. Randy Bullock, who ironically took over the Bengals job from Nugent in December, kicked in the Giants’ Week 1 win over Dallas last season while Brown served a single game suspension. Robbie Gould was signed in October to take over full-time and was a perfect 10-for-10 on field goals. The veteran signed with San Francisco this offseason.