There Is Always Something

2004 season with Tampa Bay, when he was released after missing three field goals less than 40 yards (one was blocked) in the 11th game. To that point, he had made just 11 of 19 kicks for the Bucs that season, but only two of his last nine. 

Gramatica was picked up later in the season by his former Tampa Bay head coach Tony Dungy, who needed a kickoff guy for the final four games because of Vanderjagt's inadequacies. 

There was a problem though for Gramatica, who had shown up on the Tampa Bay injury report the first week in November with a strained hip. Evidently, it was more than a strain, since Gramatica had surgery in June of 2005 to repair tears in his lower abdomen and abductor. At the time he claimed the injuries were the reason for his poor performance in 2004, and really, in 2003, when he made just 16 of 26 attempts after never making less than 79 percent of his kicks his first four years with the Buccaneers. 

So Gramatica spent the 2005 season rehabbing. 

Well, Parcells gained some serious insight on Gramatica after he signed with New England on April 6, the Patriots' first stab at replacing the departed Adam Vinatieri. Then New England, where Parcells' son-in-law Scott Pioli is the vice president of player personnel, used a fourth-round pick on University of Memphis kicker Stephen Gostkowski. 

As the accounts go, Gramatica matched Gostkowski kick for kick during training camp, and made his only two preseason attempts. But as normally is the case in situations like this, the veteran kicker can't tie the rookie. The tie will always go to the younger guy, especially a draft choice, so on Aug. 23, Gramatica was released. 

"I watched him this summer," Parcells said of keeping tabs on Gramatica, and remember, the Cowboys sent vice president of scouting Jeff Ireland to New England on a scout exchange during camp. "I know why he was out of football in (2005)." 

Now Dungy called on his former kicker again this season, and Gramatica spent three games on the Colts' roster, two handling kickoffs when Vinatieri was having groin problems and one as the place kicker, hitting his only attempt from 20 yards.  

But that's it. That is all he's done since that 2004 season. 

"Until he got hurt," Parcells points out, "he was an 80-percent kicker," and darn well knew he was a "92-percent kicker (actually 91.7) in the playoffs." 

But that was last in the 2002 season. This is 2006. 

Making you feel better about heading into Giants Stadium on Sunday, where the kickoff temperature is likely to be about 40 degrees? Where the wind always seems to blow even when it's not really blowing, if you know what I mean? Where you know as sure as a horn will honk on the Jersey Turnpike Saturday night there will be at least one important field-goal attempt? 

Gramatica was rather reserved his first day in the locker room at The Ranch, a swerving 1-80 from Vanderjagt, who couldn't wait to remind you he was the NFL's all-time most accurate kicker. When asked if he could right the Cowboys' kicking problems, which really was more of a confidence problem than an accuracy one, Gramatica coolly said, "We'll find out." 

Good answer. 

Maybe it was just the change, but Parcells already seems more at ease with his kicker, even knowing Gramatica has made one 20-yarder since Oct. 24, 2004, having missed his last three attempts that year, along with having another blocked. 

"I'm approaching it with a real positive attitude," Parcells said of going with Gramatica. "It wasn't so much Gramatica (being available), but I thought it was the best option. 

"Obviously I feel better than having stayed the course the other way." 

Parcells, ever one to shake things up, isn't putting all his kicking eggs on Gramatica's foot, either. Once the paperwork is completed, the Cowboys are expected later this week to sign Dallas Desperados kicker Carlos Martinez to the practice squad, you know, just in case. He was pretty good by Arena Football League standards the past three years, considering those uprights are but nine feet apart, probably looking to a kicker no wider than a bedroom doorway on the field. 

You know Bill, he's big on contingencies this time of year, and he gives you an idea of

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Advertising