John Potter might have inadvertently cracked the code to pressure kicking.
Simply don’t give yourself a chance to be nervous, and you will make them all.
From the moment the Dolphins offered him a job Thursday until postgame in Tampa on Saturday, Potter’s life was one big blur.
He didn’t even know he would be handling field-goal duties until just before kickoff. But when Caleb Sturgis’ groin injury flared up again, there Potter was, staring down attempts from 48 and 51 yards for his new team.
Potter drilled them both — and instantly created a competition at a position most considered set.
“I didn’t have any time to think about it,” Potter said Tuesday. “It was perfect. It was definitely exciting.”
And more than a little nerve-racking for Sturgis. He was supposed to kick Saturday, but re-aggravated the groin issue that has bothered him all camp.
When asked Tuesday if he’s frustrated by not being able to participate and not knowing his fate, Sturgis replied: “I’m not really going to talk about all that right now.”
Potter hasn’t given Sturgis any room to relax since the moment he arrived in camp. He made all but one of his field-goal attempts in practice Tuesday, missing only from 51 yards. Sturgis, meanwhile, was again a spectator, calling into question whether he will be able to play in Saturday’s exhibition game against the Cowboys.
Coach Joe Philbin is keeping up the pressure. He told reporters this week that he doesn’t know who will be kicking for the Dolphins in the Sept. 7 season opener against New Engalnd — a clear sign that the roster battle is indeed real.
Potter first impressed Philbin when he came in for a tryout a few weeks ago. And the kicker has done little since to change that opinion.
“Sometimes I judge a kicker, especially when you’re on the side and you’re looking at the kick, just the way it comes off his foot,” Philbin said. “It looked good [Saturday]. The ball is getting up in the air, and he’s kicking the ball with authority. I think he made the most of his opportunity that night, for sure.”
That’s Potter’s top priority after a career of false starts. Drafted by the Bills in the seventh round two years ago, he has since been cut by Buffalo, Washington and Detroit.
Without a team since May, Potter kept in shape by kicking three times a week, hoping to get a call. He was home in Michigan on Thursday afternoon when the Dolphins came calling.
In the ensuing 20-some-odd hours, Potter flew first to South Florida and then to Tampa with his new team.
“You just have to trust that at some point you’re going to get a shot, so you always stay ready, stay mentally prepared,” Potter said. “Even if you’re not on a team, you take a lot of mental reps, where you’re visualizing yourself on a team making those kicks in games.”
As for his competition with Sturgis, Potter said: “[The coaches] haven’t told me anything, but you really just have to go out and pretend like every opportunity is going to be your last. Make every kick that they give you count.”
THIS AND THAT• Knowshon Moreno, held out of the first two exhibition games because of a lingering knee issue, might still be adjusting to the South Florida heat. During special teams drills Tuesday, he got in some extra work with an athletic trainer before returning to practice.
When asked about Moreno’s conditioning, Philbin said: “I think it’s getting there. This is a big week. ... I think [Wednesday] and the rest of his week will be important for his conditioning.”• Philbin showed his team a clip of Jimmy Wilson’s missed tackle against the Buccaneers’ Mike Evans from Saturday night, which would have resulted in a touchdown if not for Brent Grimes’ hustle.
“That’s not how we tackle,” Philbin said. “Throwing your shoulder into a guy and turning when you should be having your chin up, wrapping your arms and accelerating your feet, that’s not good enough. You can’t tackle that way.”• Center Sam Brenner and defensive tackle Anthony Johnson returned to action Tuesday after dealing with minor injuries. Defensive back Walt Aikens left practice an apparent hand issue and did not return.
Marcus Thigpen, Jalil Brown, Terrence Fede and Mike Gillislee all remained out. Running back Daniel Thomas and receiver Brandon Gibson were both limited.• Will Davis began practice as the Dolphins’ No. 3 corner, but Jamar Taylor ended the day in that role.