As evidenced from his release in August of that year, Elliott was never assured he’d win the job over veteran competitor Randy Bullock. McPherson was in the same boat when pinned against Austin Siebert last offseason.
“They never said I was the guy,” McPherson told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “It was always, ‘You have to compete for it,’ and I feel like I probably needed that a little bit. Just to make sure I was kind of dialed in and just competing every day, trying to get the best out of me. Honestly, I think that’s why they never really said I was the guy.”
Needless to say, he is the guy now.
The most prolific rookie season for a kicker in NFL history has the Bengals thinking on how to preserve McPherson instead of testing him. He’s cut down on his weekly kicking this offseason thus far after staying busy for five months of games in his first year, and that doesn’t include all the practices and the offseason leading up to a 21-game schedule.
“I feel good. You’d have to say refreshed,” McPherson said. “It doesn’t change much right now. I’m just trying to take care of my body a little more.”
Cincinnati relied heavily on their rookie sensation, and his delivery rate was near perfect. Having to compete week after week pushed McPherson into the success he earned, and now it’s about keeping that drive despite being the only kicker on the roster. But he knows the harsh business of the NFL when things start going against you.
“The guys on the other teams,” McPherson said of his new competitors. “From the aspect, if you don’t perform well, they’ll bring in somebody to out-perform you.”
Unless the next great kicker is somehow available on the streets right now, McPherson should feel pretty comfortable with his job security. But if the kid who called his shot in a road playoff game wants to stay humble, no one’s going to stop him.