Just days before the season opener, the Titans are making a move to a new kicker according to Adam Schefter.
Surprise opening-week injury: Titans are placing veteran kicker Ryan Succop on injured reserve and signing former Bucs’ kicker Cairo Santos, per source. Santos and former Bears’ K Cody Parkey both tried out for the job this week.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 4, 2019
After dealing with a knee injury during the offseason, Ryan Succop had been moved off PUP a couple weeks ago and started working towards getting ready for the regular season. He kicked in the last two preseason games, going 4 for 4 on field goal attempts (the longest attempt was just 33 yards) and 1 for 2 on extra points.
This news is pretty out of left field. Mike Vrabel spoke with confidence that his kicker would be ready to go all offseason and things appeared to be heading that direction the last couple weeks. Whether he suffered a setback or the team just wasn’t fully satisfied with his recovery is unclear, but it’s worth noting that Succop — like Joshua Kalu — is eligible to return from IR after Week 8 since he was included in the team’s original 53-man roster.
Now the Titans will turn to a new kicker for the first time since 2013. Cairo Santos has kicked for four different NFL teams — Bucs, Bears, Chiefs, and Rams — since coming into the league in 2014. His career field goal percentage is 83.2%, just a tick lower than Succop’s career rate of 83.6%.
Range is Santos’ primary concern as he doesn’t have a huge leg by NFL standards — career long is just 53 yards — but he tends to make the ones he should hit. If that forces the Titans to go for it on 4th and short near the edge of field goal range more often this year, I actually think that’s a good thing. Santos also has a lower touchback percentage on kickoffs, though teams average fewer return yards on his kicks compared to Succop. The kick coverage unit just got a little more important for the Titans.
Coincidentally, this is the second time Santos has replaced Succop. He was the kicker that pushed Succop out in Kansas City, making him available for the Titans to sign in 2014. Kickers are unpredictable, but Santos is a proven guy with solid, consistent accuracy numbers over the course of his career. I think the Titans will be in pretty good hands here. That being said, you have to wonder why they didn’t bring in a second kicker during camp if this was a possibility. Maybe Succop suffered a setback, but it seems odd that Austin Barnard was here instead of a guy like Santos.