Titans' Rob Bironas not concerned about missed field goals as kicker works off rust

When you're one of the most accurate placer kickers in NFL history, people tend to notice when you miss. Rob Bironas missed not once, but twice in his preseason debut for Tennessee.

Neither Bironas nor Titans coach Mike Munchak are concerned.

Bironas said Tuesday he knew instantly what went wrong when he missed wide left from 38 yards, and wide right from 37 in last week's loss to Cincinnati. He's working back from a two-week layoff because of back soreness and says he is glad he has two more weeks left this preseason to hone his timing.

"It's one of those things at this time I'm not worried about it," Bironas said. "I know in the game my get-off times were a tenth of second difference when usually they're a thousandth of a second difference. One of them I was on top of the ball and there way too early, and one of them I slowed everything down trying to make up for it and just leg-whipped it. Paying attention, my focus wasn't there 100 percent. I was paying more attention to more than just my job."

Munchak has been around Bironas all of the kicker's eight previous seasons with the Titans and doesn't plan on bring in any kickers to push the veteran or compete for the job.

"Coming off an injury or medical condition, you're always going to be a little rusty because you haven't really been in a game situation since last year," Munchak said.

Bironas, who signed a two-year deal this offseason, ranks third in NFL history connecting on 85.6 percent of his kicks. The native of Louisville, Ky., is 214 of 250 for his career on field goals, and he also has 11 game-winning field goals. His lone Pro Bowl berth came in 2007 when he kicked the longest field goal of his career with a 60-yarder.

But Bironas' numbers dipped in 2012 to 80.6 percent on field goals as he hit 25 of 31. Those included misses of 41 and 48 yards on a sore ankle before Bironas hit the game-winner from 26 yards to beat Detroit in overtime. Munchak also gave Bironas a chance at a 57-yarder indoors at Indianapolis that missed right, and the Jets managed to block a 46-yarder last December.

The Titans do have rookie Maikon Bonani, a native of Brazil who played at South Florida, in camp. Bonani handled all the kicking in the preseason opener against Washington on Aug. 8, but even the strong-legged rookie missed a 26-yarder in the 29-17 loss to Cincinnati.

Bironas looked over at Bonani in the locker room and joked he was glad the rookie missed a kick to keep people from saying Bonani should now have his job.

But Bironas said he shouldn't have rushed himself back early in training camp when he started having his customary back soreness from kicking away. He sat out a Sunday night session, then was back Tuesday when he should have taken another day or two then. That led to him missing nearly two weeks.

On Tuesday, Bironas kicked up to 40 field goals until his leg got tired and plans to build up to 50 or 55 next week. He also kicked between 10 and 15 kickoffs that he was hitting well. He isn't happy with how his first game this season went.

"But I'm glad that it was able to show its ugly face right now and I can fix it now rather than in a month or in three weeks or be dealing with an injury that takes me out of a game in season because I've been here eight years and haven't missed one" game, Bironas said. "This was a right time to be patient and let the body get right for the season."

Notes: LB Zach Brown (sore foot) missed his second straight practice, but Munchak said he may practice Wednesday. ... DE Ropati Potoitua (broken right hand) will not play against Atlanta while DT Sammie Hill (left elbow) may not play the rest of the preseason to heal up. Munchak also said LB Akeem Ayers (right ankle) will not play the final two preseason games to be ready for the season opener Sept. 8.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org


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