When the Cincinnati Bengals decided to go with Randy Bullock over Jake Elliott as the team’s kicker to start the 2017 NFL season, it seemed like the rookie may have been on the move and heading to another NFL team.
Instead, the Bengals were able to retain him on the practice squad, keeping him in Cincinnati, for now. This will allow the team to keep coaching up the young kicker as well as have someone around should Bullock not play up to expectations. But that’s not how Bullock sees it. He does not believe Elliott making the practice squad is an extended competition and feels it’s now his time to shine, which it is.
"I was told I won the job and I was the guy, it was my show, just keep rolling,” Bullock said following roster cuts, via ESPN. “So that's the mindset I have, and we're all on the same page."
Bullock worked hard to win the starting job, having a nearly perfect summer in training camp and missing just one field goal in the preseason. He won the competition, without question, as it was reported there was a 15 percent differential between their make percentages in training camp and practices. Bullock had one preseason miss while Elliott had three, if you include the 60-yard attempt he nearly made.
"It was a great feeling," Bullock said after winning the job as the Bengals’ kicker. "It was kind of what I expected, what I hoped. I felt I'd earned it, and that's what they told me."
Bengals fans should be happy Elliott is still around, as somewhat of a backup plan. Now, he’s still part of the organization and could pan out in Cincinnati in the future. The former Memphis kicker and scoring leader is not completely disappointed in the situation.
"I think it speaks volumes that they're still confident in me and want me to stay active," Elliott said after returning via the practice squad. "It's great of them to do, as far as giving me an opportunity for other teams around the league to know that I'm on call as well."
Elliott could leave the Bengals at any time should another team want to add him to their 53-man roster. In the meantime, he’ll practice with the scout team and should the Bengals want to activate him to the roster in the future, they’ll have that option so long as he remains on the practice squad.
“He'll (Bullock) have the majority of the team reps,” Elliott said. “They might throw me in there for something once in awhile. The main job for me is I just stay ready and wait for an opportunity."
Elliott also spoke of his 60-yard attempt in the preseason finale in Indianapolis and if making that kick could have propelled him onto the 53-man roster instead of Bullock
"I thought about it for a day or so," Elliott said. "Had that gone in, could things have been different? I don't know if the answer is yes or no to that. I hit it well and just got unlucky."
We’ll never know if that kick could have changed Elliott’s fate—it very well may have—for now, we’ll have to wait and see if Bullock rises to the challenge of being the Bengals’ kicker this season. Hopefully, the kicking game is nowhere near the headache it was last season during Mike Nugent’s final games in Cincinnati.