Several weeks ago during a practice leading to a Week 14 game against the Dallas Cowboys, Mike Nugent suffered a calf injury while practicing onside kicks. Cincinnati was forced to invite kickers for a workout on a Thursday, needing someone to have ready for Dallas. Josh Brown beat out Neil Rackers and Bill Cundiff, replacing Nugent temporarily while he rehabilitated what was described as a tweak.
Yet Brown has converted all six field goals he's attempted in two games, including four against Dallas, capped by a 52-yarder that gave Cincinnati a nine-point lead last week.
When Nugent returns, the Bengals will have to decision to make. Do they ride the hot leg of Brown, who signed a $825,000 contract two weeks ago? Or Mike Nugent, playing on a one-year franchise contract with $2.654 fully guaranteed?
“Whenever the doctors and our trainers say he's ready to go then we've got a decision to make. But he's got to be ready to go. These are important games for us down the stretch,” Special teams coach Darrin Simmons said.
There is a third option. Keep both and use both for different situations.
For example Brown crushed five of his six kickoffs into the endzone for touchbacks against Dallas, something that Nugent has never done with Cincinnati (though they've only recently moved kickoffs up). And that percentage could be higher if most of his kickoffs last Thursday against Philadelphia weren't used with a sand wedge. Nugent could handle field goal and PAT duties.
“The beauty of it is we don't have a decision to make until a week from Sunday. Why can't we go with two. You don't see it very often,” Simmons said.