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Two kicks, one block: Not spectacular, but France will take it
By PIERCE W. HUFF
Published December 5, 2005
[Times photo: Bill Serne]
Punter and holder Josh Bidwell congratulates Todd France for his 28-yard field goal that put the Bucs up 10-3. Photo gallery | Bucs forum Bucs hotline: 866-371-9605 What did you think of the Bucs' performance?
BATON ROUGE, La. - Todd France hoped to play for the Bucs this season, but the kicking insurance policy never expected his opportunity to come so late in the year.
France thought he had a good chance to kick with Tampa Bay during the preseason when he converted all four field goals and was one of the Bucs' final cuts, but the team decided to go with veteran Matt Bryant instead. So, France waited and was rewarded with a three-game stint with Philadelphia in place of injured starter David Akers.
When Bryant was deactivated with a hamstring injury days after missing a 29-yard field goal in the final minutes of a loss to Chicago, France finally got his chance.
The time frame wasn't what France expected or wanted, but after Sunday's 10-3 victory over New Orleans in his first game, he was thankful for the chance.
"It's always good to be playing football for a living," said the 25-year-old out of Toledo.
But it isn't an easy or stable job, which is something France has learned firsthand.
He was at home and never saw Bryant's miss against Chicago. One day later, the Bucs brought France in as a possible replacement for Bryant when they learned of his injury. France was signed to the practice squad Tuesday, and was put on the active roster and traveled with the team on Saturday.
Mirroring what France experienced during the week, Sunday's game against the Saints was equally full of its share of ups and downs.
He had his first kick, a 43-yarder, blocked by the Saints' Darren Howard in the first quarter. It was the second time this season France has had a kick blocked.
"I'd have to look at the film to see what really happened, but I thought I hit the kick low," France said.
France rebounded when he converted a 28-yarder to give Tampa Bay a 10-3 lead with 9:41 remaining. The kick was crucial because it increased the lead to seven.
Holder Josh Bidwell said it was an easy transition working with France this week.
"We just prepared for Todd to be the guy," Bidwell said. "He took all the reps this week, and we were ready to go."
And things worked out.
France, who has made seven of nine field goals this season, said he doesn't begrudge Tampa Bay for going with Bryant after the preseason.
"I thought I kicked well enough to make the team, but they went with Matt and he did a great job all season," France said. "They didn't make a poor choice."
France is just glad to be getting a second chance.