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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
In PK Mike Nugent, Bengals special-teams coach Darrin Simmons sees someone driven to recapture his past form.
"He's a guy who's been up high," Simmons said of Nugent, a second-round pick of the Jets five years ago. "Over the course of the past couple of years, he's kind of been down at the bottom again. I think it's obviously frustrating for him, because he knows the talent is there. It's there because he's done it before, and he's eager to get back up on top and be back on top of his game again."
Nugent, whose Jets career was sidetracked by a quad injury after four seasons and who hit just 4-of-8 field-goal attempts last season in stints with the Buccaneers and Cardinals, is off to a good start in his first year with the Bengals.
He has yet to miss a field goal, and he earned AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors after converting five field goals in a 15-10 victory over Baltimore in Week Two.
Simmons, in his eighth year coaching the Bengals' special teams, said Nugent hasn't dramatically altered his approach, but he has "worked extremely hard on refining some of his technique to make him more consistent. Because the bottom line with these specialists, especially kickers, is consistency. That's something I think he kind of lost, whether it was because of injury, because of confidence. For whatever reason, it just wasn't working real well.
"And we're trying to instill that confidence back in him. And the way that you instill confidence in these guys is they see themselves do well. They've got to experience success."
Simmons shared a technical area in which Nugent has improved.
"I think the one thing for him is to hit a good, clean, straight ball," Simmons said. "A lot of that has to do with his foot position at impact. That's something that we really try to stress and really try to overwork is having a nice, square foot at impact."
Overall, Simmons likes what he has seen of Nugent.
"I'm happy where he's at, but like I told somebody else — it's like we're climbing Mount Everest, but we're only at about 1,000 feet right now," Simmons said. "We've still got a long way to go, but so far, so good."