EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Aldrick Rosas came to the New York Giants’ training camp as somewhat of a long shot to keep his job as placekicker.
The former NAIA player struggled in his rookie season, hitting 18 of 25 field goals, while missing three of 23 extra points. Upsetting the coaching staff: his occasional tendency to have one of his kickoffs go out of bounds, allowing opponents to start drives at their 40-yard line.
It wasn’t a good first year and Rosas knew it.
So after giving himself a little time with his family — a daughter was born early last season — Rosas went back to work, and never stopped.
Rosas was almost perfect in training camp and the preseason in beating out Marshall Koehn, a first-year free agent. It has paid off bigtime during the season: Rosas on Tuesday was voted to the NFC team in the Pro Bowl. The second-year pro has hit 28 of 29 field goal attempts and 25 of 26 PATs. His .966 field goal percentage is second in the NFL to former Giants kicker Robbie Gould (.967 on 29 of 30). His 109 points are ninth in the league.
Among his field goals is a franchise record 57-yarder against Chicago. His only field goal missed was on a 52-yard attempt against Philadelphia on Oct. 11.
“I don’t know how to describe it — shocking, just to get that support and votes from my peers and the fans, and everybody in the building, this organization just being behind me,” Rosas said Wednesday of the honor. “It’s real special.”
Rosas said a lot of the credit has to go to long snapper Zak DeOssie, holder Riley Dixon, and the coaching staff.
The soon to be 24-year-old said he has prospered by taking things day by day. He sorted out his kicking technique with former NFL kicker John Carney in San Diego in the offseason while working on his mental approach to the game.
“He has put his nose to the grindstone,” said Dixon, a punter signed in the offseason who has become the holder in the operation, replacing Brad Wing. “He just kept working.”
As Rosas spoke, DeOssie smiled in the background, somewhat like the proud dad. He has been with the Giants since 2007 and has been around a lot of good kickers.
Rosas saw him smiling and called him “the oldest guy in the NFL” and “a dinosaur.”
When DeOssie was asked if Rosas was paying for the holder and snapper to go to the Pro Bowl in Orlando, he quipped: “He bought us tickets.”
Rosas, who wasn’t pursued by major colleges, has come a long way from kicking at Southern Oregon, a public liberal arts college in Ashland, Oregon with an enrollment of around 4,300 students. Big crowds on game days were a couple of thousand fans.
He was signed as a free agent by Tennessee in May 2016 and released at the end of training camp. The Giants signed him to a reserve/future contact in January 2017 and he beat out veteran Mike Nugent in training camp.
“Yeah, it’s starting to kind of hit now in these last couple of hours, and even last night,” Rosas said. “Just how, NAIA and small high school, just to last year, to kind of now. The story is still kind of getting written. When you’re around a great group of guys, a great organization, great fans, it’s just a huge blessing.”
Rosas is one of coach Pat Shurmur’s favorite players. He looks like a buff linebacker, plays the same way, and makes kicks, too.