On September 10, 2013, in his first game as a starting placekicker in the NFL, Randy Bullock kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to defeat the San Diego Chargers 31-28 in the 2013 season opener. In retrospect, it was probably the high point of Bullock's star-crossed Texans career. After that Monday night game, it pretty much went downhill, with the occasional uptick, over the next two-plus years.
And on Tuesday afternoon, in the wake of a five-kicker tryout on the Texans' off day, Bullock's Texans career plummeted to an unceremonious thud, with the Texans releasing the fourth-year kicker out of Texas A&M. In his place, the Texans signed 34-year-old Nick Novak, the winner of the five-person kicker version of American Idol on Tuesday.
According to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, the contest to replace Bullock boiled down to Novak and former Washington kicker Kai Forbath, and was very close, according to anonymous sources. The other kickers in for the tryout were former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos kicker Connor Barth; former Rice, Texans and New York Giants kicker Chris Boswell; and former Oakland Raiders kicker Giorgio Tavecchio.
Bullock was two days removed from a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in which he missed a 43-yard field goal just before the half and then, in the fourth quarter, became the first kicker in NFL history to miss two extra points from the new PAT line of scrimmage this season, a kick that would've given the Texans an eight-point lead had Bullock converted. By Sunday after the game, Texans head coach Bill O'Brien had seen enough.
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“Obviously, we need to kick better, extra points, field goals,” O’Brien said Sunday. “We need to kick better.” On paper, the quotes don't begin to capture the very evident level of disgust that O'Brien had with Bullock's performance on Sunday. Bullock had no competition in camp before the season, a curious decision by a head coach who preaches competitive position battles year round, and even more curious now that Bullock has played himself out of a job.
For his career, Bullock has converted 61 of 76 career field goals (80.3 percent) and 69 of 71 extra points, He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 draft during the Gary Kubiak era. With the release of Bullock, the Texans are down to 20 players who were either drafted, traded for or signed during the Kubiak era.
Novak actually tried out for the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, but they chose to sign former Miami Dolphins kicker Caleb Sturgis. In his career, Novak has converted 120 of 147 career field goals (81.6 percent), he is a former undrafted free agent from Maryland who began his career in Washington, and has had nearly a dozen professional football stops in his career. His longest stop, by far, was in San Diego between 2011 and 2014. Novak made 22 of 26 field goals last season for the Chargers.
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