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VOL. 132 | NO. 209 | Friday, October 20, 2017

Succop One of Best-Ever Pickups for Titans

By Terry McCormick

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The art of kicking a football is often taken for granted.

Tennessee Titans kicker Ryan Succop (4) kicks a 23-yard field goal as Brett Kern (6) holds against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday, Oct. 16. Succop ranks second scoring this season among NFL placekickers. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

It’s a little bit like driving in that good driving is rarely noticed, unless maybe it’s done by NASCAR drivers. Bad driving always brings unwanted attention.

The Tennessee Titans’ kicking game has been in very capable hands (feet?) since the signing of Ryan Succop.

Succop was a godsend in 2013 when the Titans released long-time kicker Rob Bironas in a salary cap move, and were seemingly determined to go young at the position. The training camp battle that year pitted Travis Coons against Maikon Bonani. Neither kicked the ball well enough in preseason to show any hint they had earned the job.

Then, good fortune befell the Tennessee organization – one of the few times it did during that era of Titans football.

The Kansas City Chiefs, who had become enamored with rookie kicker Cairo Santos in camp, chose him over Succop, and the veteran was let go, despite Succop having had solid credentials over a five-year run with in Kansas City.

Succop was signed by then-Titans GM Ruston Webster to a one-year deal, and after solid success that year was given a three-year extension.

In the course of that three-year extension, Succop has proven to be the most accurate kicker in the NFL.

Last week against Miami, he tied an NFL record by connecting on his 46th consecutive field goal inside 50 yards.

Against the Colts on Monday night, he broke the record with a 48-yarder to open the game’s scoring. He added four more – 32, 40, 48 and 23 yards – during the 36-22 win to extend the record.

He’s also No. 2 in the league in scoring (62 points) and field goals made (16).

With his current contract set to expire at season’s end, re-signing Succop should be the biggest no-brainer on current general manager Jon Robinson’s to-do list for the off-season.

Not surprisingly, Succop deflected the credit for his success to punter Brett Kern, his holder, long snapper Beau Brinkley and those up front who block for him.

“I’ve been really blessed to work with a lot of great guys. A lot of guys deserve credit for that. I feel very fortunate to be able to do that,” Succop says.

Kern, meanwhile, is having a monster season as a punter, averaging 51.5 yards per kick (No. 7 in NFL) and 46.9 net (No. 2 in NFL).

“We definitely take a lot of pride and want to give our team an advantage in the kicking game,” Succop says. “We don’t have to have our names called or anything like that. But if we can go out there and help our team win, that’s what we want to do. Sometimes it’s in small ways, sometimes it’s in bigger ways, but we definitely want to go out there and give our team a chance to win each and every Sunday.”

You can be certain that coach Mike Mularkey appreciates Succop’s consistency.

“It gives you a lot of confidence. It gives your offense confidence, they know where they’ve got to get the ball to get points,” Mularkey says. “Plus, with us not having high red-zone success like we did last year, it’s good that we’re getting points and knowing that we’re pretty automatic with him.”

Succop, 31, says he has found greater success by actually doing less in his kicking regimen through the week than he did when he was younger.

“The best way I can explain this that makes sense to a lot of sports fans is that a kicker and punter on an NFL team, we’re a lot like a pitcher on a major league team,” Succop explains. “A pitcher can’t throw every day, or if he throws every day he’s going to run into big problems, with your elbow, shoulder. His arm is going to be shot by the end of the year. We’re really similar to that.

“I’ll usually kick twice a week in practice. On Wednesday, I’ll try to kick 30 to 35 balls. Then, on Thursday, I’ll taper it down a little bit with maybe 20 to 25 balls. And then I’m resting up until the game on Sunday. I want to be fresh on Sunday.

“That’s definitely something I’ve learned as I’ve gone along in my career,” he adds. “When you’re a young guy, you feel like you need to kick all the time. You have to keep getting better.

“But what I’ve learned is that you can actually get worse doing that. As much as you want to be out there kicking balls every day, you’ve got to be smart and definitely take the quality-over-quantity approach.”

And that approach by Succop has meant quality for the Titans at a vital position.

Terry McCormick covers the Titans for TitanInsider.com

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