The New Orleans Saints, currently standing at 5-6 for the season, have been facing a conundrum concerning their rookie kicker, Blake Grupe. Grupe, who was responsible for all of the team's points in a recent game against the Atlanta Falcons, has displayed inconsistency throughout the season. Despite making 24 out of 30 field goal attempts, earning an 80% success rate, his performance has been marred by recent misses and a groin injury. The team's management, in response to these challenges, has explored options for a replacement, conducting tryouts with several free agent kickers, ultimately leading to the signing of veteran kicker Austin Seibert to the practice squad.
Grupe's Struggles and the Saints' Response
Grupe's recent performance against the Atlanta Falcons, where he scored 15 points, was commendable. However, the fact that he was dealing with a groin injury during this game raises concerns about his ability to continue performing consistently in upcoming matches. The decision to host tryouts with various kickers, including Mason Crosby, James McCourt, and Taylor Bertolet, underscores the team's desire for a reliable and stable special teams performance as they progress through the season. This move also reflects the management's acknowledgment of the importance of having a contingency plan in place, especially when a key player like Grupe is dealing with an injury.
Addition of Austin Seibert to the Practice Squad
The decision to sign Austin Seibert, a seasoned kicker with a track record of 80.4% success in field goal attempts and 90.3% in extra point attempts throughout his NFL career, demonstrates the team's commitment to ensuring that they have a reliable backup in case Grupe is unable to play. Seibert's addition to the practice squad provides the Saints with a safety net, especially considering Grupe's injury status and recent performance fluctuations.
Searching for Stability in Special Teams
It is evident that the Saints' management is focused on maintaining a balance between supporting Grupe, who has shown promise in certain aspects such as consistently delivering touchbacks, and preparing for potential scenarios where his performance may be affected by injuries or inconsistencies. Despite the team's support for Grupe, there is a clear understanding that his overall performance needs to improve in terms of reliability and consistency. As the Saints continue to navigate the challenges of the current season, the addition of Seibert to the practice squad serves as a proactive measure to address uncertainties surrounding Grupe's availability and performance. This move reflects the team's commitment to ensuring that they have a strong and reliable special teams unit, capable of making meaningful contributions to their overall performance.
In conclusion, the New Orleans Saints' decision to host tryouts for free agent kickers and subsequently sign Austin Seibert to the practice squad is a strategic move aimed at addressing the challenges posed by Blake Grupe's injury and inconsistent performance. By weighing the options and securing a reliable backup, the team is positioning itself to navigate potential hurdles while maintaining a competitive edge in the remainder of the season. This episode underscores the intricate balance between nurturing young talent like Grupe and ensuring that the team has the necessary depth and stability to face the rigors of professional football.