NASHVILLE – Caleb Shudak went toe-to-toe with Randy Bullock during the offseason.
Now, Shudak finally gets to show off his leg in an NFL game.
Saturday, the Tennessee Titans downgraded Bullock from “questionable” to “out” for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Nissan Stadium. Shudak, an undrafted rookie out of Iowa, was removed from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and added to the active roster, which means he will be the one who handles all of the kickoffs and placekicks against the Bengals.
“We were excited with (Shudak) during the offseason,” special teams coach Craig Aukerman said this week. “Him and (Bullock) were having a great battle during OTAs, really neck and neck on a lot of things. Both of them had a great camp.”
This will be the Titans’ second straight game without Bullock, who sustained a calf injury to his kicking leg during warmups for the game against the Denver Broncos on Nov. 13. He made it through that contest as the placekicker but ceded kickoff duties to punter Ryan Stonehouse.
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Tennessee signed veteran free agent Josh Lambo to kick against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 17 but released him at the start of this week.
Shudak, who is just 5-foot-7, 177 pounds, was designated for return to practice on Tuesday, which allowed him to work with the team while still on the PUP list. That day’s practice was the first time he kicked in a team setting since June. An injury on the final day of minicamp and a setback early in training camp kept him out of action for more than four months.
“For a guy who hasn’t kicked in a team setting for a while, for him to go out there and make a couple of nice field goals really gave us a lot of confidence in him,” Aukerman said. “I also think it gave him a lot of confidence in himself. Anytime a player deals with an injury and then has another setback, it’s a big wonder if he can go back out there and do that type of thing.”
Shudak spent four seasons at the University of Iowa but was the primary placekicker there for just one season (2021). The 5-foot-7, 177-pounder made 24 of 28 field goal attempts overall, seven of seven from 40-49 yards and four of six from 50-plus yards. He averaged 63.4 yards on his kickoffs, 71 percent of which (46-of-65) resulted in touchbacks.
“He’s got a strong leg for a guy who’s not very big,” Aukerman said. “So, he provides us with a little more power, as far as kickoffs, and maybe even more on field goals too.
“… “The biggest thing for Caleb is him feeling comfortable out there going to attack the ball because he hasn’t really done that in a while, and just have confidence in himself to hit it with full power.”
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