Nugent adds muscle, distance on kickoffs to give Jets a leg up Print
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Tuesday, 21 August 2007 14:10
NFL Headline News

 HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (AP) -If you're wondering who you should draft as the kicker for your fantasy football team, Mike Nugent has an easy answer - him, of course - and a cool video to support his choice.
The New York Jets' placekicker, who improved his leg strength during the offseason, recently filmed a commercial for NFL.com that fans are getting, well, quite a kick out of.
``It took a ton of takes and we did it a million times,'' Nugent said after a rain-soaked practice Tuesday. ``There's certain things here or there that they probably help you out with, but, yeah, it took a while out there.''
The commercial begins with Nugent looking into the camera and saying, ``They say it takes strength and accuracy to be a great kicker. Check this out.''
Nugent jogs over to four footballs lined up next to each other from at least 30 yards out and takes aim at six stacked blue buckets: three on the bottom, two in the middle and one on top. He kicks the first ball into the top bucket, the second into the one on the bottom left and the third kick knocks over the bucket on the far right. For the finale, Nugent lines a kick that knocks over the remaining buckets like bowling pins.
``I say, pick me,'' Nugent says as he walks off camera.
And who could argue with that?
The commercial, one in a series that features other NFL players such as Braylon Edwards, Andre Johnson and Jason Campbell performing incredible football feats, has fans wondering: Is it real?
``Yeah,'' Nugent said with a smile. ``I guess you can say you don't hit every one of those exactly in a row every time like that, but yeah.''
With the way Nugent has looked in training camp so far, it's hard to dispute that he's got a leg up on the season after adding 8 to 10 pounds to his 5-foot-9, 188-pound frame.
``He spent a lot of time working on total body strength,'' coach Eric Mangini said. ``One of his points of emphasis was kickoffs. He was working on getting more distance and hangtime on his kickoffs. He's done a good job with that.''
Since being the Jets' first pick out of Ohio State in the 2005 draft, the pressure has been on Nugent to not only be good, but one of the league's best. Despite finishing last season with the best single-season field-goal percentage in team history at 88.9 percent by making 24 of 27 attempts, including his last 18 in a row, he was heavily criticized for his lack of leg strength.
Nugent had a big-time reality check during the Jets' game at Green Bay last season in Week 13.
``I remember they gave me a real tough ball to kick to open the second half and I hit it to like the 18 (yard line), and I thought, 'That's just not going to cut it,''' Nugent said. ``My teammates are working so hard to get down the field and they need a better opportunity than them getting the ball on the 18 with a 3.8 hangtime.''
So, Nugent worked on getting stronger and becoming more of a weapon.
``I wasn't just in the weight room and nothing else,'' he said. ``I stuck with conditioning and just a lot of flexibility.''
It seems to have worked so far. Nugent has knocked a number of his kickoffs during practice and the Jets' two preseason games into the end zone after just two touchbacks last season. He has also kicked 60-yard field goals through Arena Football League-sized posts at least twice during camp.
``I've worked like crazy this offseason to try to get that going,'' Nugent said. ``It's one of those things where I've been having a good start so far to kickoffs and the longer field goals feel better. Just as long as I can keep it rolling.''
Nugent's confidence is a far cry from how he felt in last year's season opener, when he had perhaps the worst game of his football career by missing two field goals and an extra point at Tennessee.
``I had a real bad warmup,'' Nugent recalled. ``I was kicking the ground a lot, the field was a little rough and my foot just kept grabbing the ground like crazy. I was just kind of a little rattled in warmups and then I missed the extra point. I just needed to tell myself that I had the whole rest of the game to go, and I just didn't do that.''
The poor performance stuck in Nugent's mind for a while, but it didn't affect his kicking. He missed only a 52-yarder at Cleveland the rest of the season and, if not for that, Nugent would be entering this season with a streak of 24 straight made field goals.
``That game at Tennessee seems just really far away, but I still do think about it,'' Nugent said. ``I definitely want to toss it out and just forget about it, but I also want to remember, 'OK, what did I do wrong, and how can I adjust that for this season and do things a different way?'''
 

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