By Danielle McCartan (@CoachMcCartan and www.Facebook.com/CoachMcCartan)
NORTH CALDWELL, N.J.- On the eve of professional football’s 2019 training camp opening, Aldrick Rosas enters his third NFL season as the only kicker listed on the New York Giants’ roster. In March, coming off a record-setting, Pro Bowl season, he signed a one-year, $645,000 deal to remain with Big Blue. “I didn’t really look back until the last two or three games when I [was] like: ‘wow: this, kind of, can be a good season'”, Rosas told me at his inaugural Specialist Camp. In 2018, Rosas assembled not a ‘good’ body of work, but a great one. He hit 32 of 33 field goals (a franchise-record kicking percentage), missed only one extra point, and made a franchise-long record 57-yard field goal on December 2.
It is human nature to rest on one’s laurels, especially when one has no competition from within: no player to threaten his/her livelihood. Rosas, the only kicker in the Giants’ specialist room as of today, is committed to proactively combatting a creeping sense of complacency: “I’ve learned: it’s me against me out there. I try to be better than the day before, so it’s just: keep working on myself, keep trusting the coaching staff, building chemistry with my teammates, and just keep working. Put your head down and keep working and it’ll be a good turnout”.
After having set many franchise records last season, seemingly, the only benchmark fans and writers could generate to indicate improvement in 2019 would be for him to break his own records, thus, rewriting the Giants’ history books for the second consecutive season. To accomplish that, Rosas would need to make every field goal, every extra point, and make a field goal longer than 57 yards. For him, though, he’s not sure what that tangible benchmark would be.”I don’t really know. We talk about it all the time in the special teams room: it’s just one kick at a time. Make or miss, you come back and flush it and it’s onto the next kick. That’s how it was last season…. It’s just one kick at a time, one practice at a time, one day at a time. You just start laying the bricks for the foundation, then you can look back one day and it’ll be good.”
An undrafted rookie, Rosas hit only 18 of 25 field goals (.720 – tied for 27th in NFL) and only 20 of 23 extra points (.869 – last in NFL). Rosas’ first two seasons in New York were tumultuous ones for Big Blue: Head Coach Ben McAdoo was fired and replaced by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Then, the following season, Pat Shurmur (a first time head coach) was hired. In the Giants’ 94-year history, there have only been twenty head coaches at the helm (including interims). Rosas, in his two-year career, had experienced three of them. Was he afraid of being let-go after his inconsistent, below-average rookie season? “At that point, the team wasn’t doing as good as it should have been doing. I look[ed] to my craft and try to better myself and kind of block out everything else. Whenever the team needed me, I tried to put my best foot forward and do my job”.
Rosas characterizes his rookie season as: “just a huge learning curve. There were a lot of things I needed to go through to learn, to grow. That kind of inspired me to work on the things I needed to work on that off-season and come back strong”. He, in himself, has seen astronomical growth, especially in his mental approach to the game. As Rosas explained to me:”It’s just having a clear head. We practice day in and day out and so, just, when you step out onto the field, you clear your head and just let your body take over and just do what you’ve been doing your entire life. The results always turn out to be more good than bad.”
Having experienced the highs and lows of an NFL career at such a young age, Rosas is a perfect symbol of hard-work and determination: characteristics any parent would want their child to understand. For that reason, he is a perfect leader of young football players. A beaming Rosas told me, despite the 92-degree air temperature at his inaugural camp: “it was exciting to see the turnout today… Huge props to the kids out here, they were moving, they were working their butts off, [and] they were competing…. It was really warm today. I’m real proud of how it went”.
Rosas enlisted the help of Joe Ruback, affectionately known as License Plate Guy in the Giants fan community, to emcee the event. Ruback said, “It was an incredible day had by all. What an honor it was to be asked to MC [Aldrick Rosas’] inaugural specialist camp. Can’t wait for next year!!
Great time MC’ing Rosas camp today. Only 210 degrees on the field 🙄😰. Kids had a blast stayed hydrated with some water fights and learned alot from the pros. Kudos to the Rocket, @zdeossie and of course the Pro Bowl kicker himself A.Rosas This inaugural camp was a huge success. pic.twitter.com/EvrHMV6yLk
— LPG – NYG (@LicensePlateGuy) July 20, 2019
In fact, Rosas’ specialist camp is one of a kind. “We did some research and didn’t really find anything specialist-attributed, so I thought it would be a nice thing to get some punters, some snappers, and some kickers out here and inspire kids to be more than running backs [and] more than quarterbacks.” As special guest coach and Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie told me, his message to the campers was: “every team needs one. Offenses change, defenses change, but every team needs a snapper.”
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