2016 NFL Season

Randy Bullock’s story displays nomadic life of an NFL kicker

PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 04: Pittsburgh Steelers Place Kicker Randy Bullock (2) kicks a field goal during the NFL Football game between the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 4, 2016, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire)


This is how last weekend played out for Randy Bullock.

The Pittsburgh Steelers contacted the 26-year-old kicker Friday night and expressed interest in possibly signing him as a free agent, dependent upon the health of kicker Chris Boswell.

Boswell, the Steelers’ kicker since Week 5 of last season, sustained an abdominal injury earlier in the day in the team’s final practice before their game against the New York Giants.

On Saturday, the Steelers did indeed sign Bullock. He then converted all three of field goal attempts Sunday in a 24-14 victory at Heinz Field.

Yet, Bullock could be at home watching Sunday when the Steelers (7-5) try to extend their winning streak to four games when they play the Buffalo Bills (6-6) at Orchard Park, N.Y.

The Steelers aren’t likely to decide Boswell’s status until Friday, though coach Mike Tomlin said he has a “legit chance” to be ready by Sunday.

“We’re not in the cautious mentality,” Tomlin said. “It’s December. If he’s healthy enough to kick, we’re going to play him.”

If Boswell is ready kick, then the Steelers will send Bullock down the road looking for another team.

“That’s life for that position in this business,” Tomlin said. “You take every opportunity you get until you get an opportunity to gain some traction. So, it was good for us, it was good for Randy to have that positive contribution to our efforts a week ago. If we call upon him again, we have great confidence in him. I’m sure he’s excited about delivering for us again and for himself again.”

Bullock opened the season with the New York Giants but was released after one game when Josh Brown returned from being suspended for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

The Houston Texans selected Bullock in the fifth round of the 2012 draft and he was with them until being released three games into last season. He eventually signed with the New York Jets and kicked in their last eight games of 2015.

Bullock was one three kickers the Steelers auditioned last season when they released veteran Josh Scobee after four games. They wound up signing Boswell, who has made 41 of 49 field goal attempts, good for 83.7 percent, in his 23 games with the Steelers.

Bullock has made 81.3 percent (78 of 96) of his career field-goal tries.

The knock against Bullock, though, is his lack of leg strength. While he is 45-for-58 (93.8 percent) on tries from inside 40 yards, he is just 33-for-48 (68.9 percent) from 40 and beyond.

Yet, while Bullock didn’t beat out Boswell last year, he made a strong enough impression on Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert that he was tops on their list of kickers to call in case of emergency.

“He’s been around the block a little bit,” Tomlin said. “A guy that’s continually in the fold, meaning he’s getting workouts, he’s in the system. That speaks to their overall readiness. He’s not necessarily getting off the couch, per se. He kicked some this year. He was continually on the workout circuit. So, that aids in the decision, you know, or at least you have a feel for his mentality and his overall physical readiness.”

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