<
>

Bucs kicker Kyle Brindza eager to deliver after struggling during Week 3

TAMPA, Fla. -- Kicker Kyle Brindza stood in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room Wednesday with his pads in his right hand and his cleats in his left, ready to move past his forgettable Week 3.

"This is where you crack under pressure or you make a diamond," Brindza said.

The rookie hopes to deliver a gem Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium, a week after he missed an extra-point try and three field goal attempts in a loss to the Houston Texans. On Monday, coach Lovie Smith placed his support behind Brindza and shrugged off the Notre Dame product's struggles to an "off day."

"Just being able to hear about it," Brindza said of Smith's faith in him, "it was able to give confidence."

Brindza has made 5 of 9 field goal tries this season, including a 58-yard attempt in the second quarter at Houston. But the missed extra point and the failed field goal tries from 41 yards, 33 yards and 57 yards against the Texans left questions about Tampa Bay's kicking situation.

Smith was quick to chase those doubts when asked about them Monday. Brindza, for his part, pointed to a mechanical issue that led to his lack of success.

"I'm fine," said Brindza, gained in a trade that sent tight end Tim Wright to the Detroit Lions on Aug. 31. "I just have to follow through a little bit. ... The next kick is the most important kick."

His next kick, if it's successful, could go a long way in helping him gain confidence. Brindza said he spoke to his mentor, Lions kicker Matt Prater, after last Sunday's game. The advice for Brindza from the veteran kicker was simple: "Get over the hump."

"I just have to lean on myself and on my attitude and my confidence," Brindza said. "But at the end of the day, I had a couple guys reach out to me."