Jaguars sign former Steelers, UCF kicker Matthew Wright but Josh Lambo remains
UPDATE:Josh Lambo was ruled out of Thursday night's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He had missed practice earlier in the week for personal reasons. Matthew Wright will start for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But Wright was signed to the practice squad and Lambo remained on the team as of late Monday, perhaps an indication that Wright couldn't be ready on a short week before Thursday's game at Cincinnati, with only two scheduled days of practice.
Both Wright and Lambo were at practice on Monday at the team's indoor facility. Neither kicked during the period of time open to the media.
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Wright has inherited No. 15, the number worn for two seasons by former Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew.
When asked if there was enough time to evaluate any candidates and make a change before leaving for Cincinnati on Wednesday, Jaguars coach Urban Meyer replied, "good question ... I don't know."
Wright made 4 of 4 field-goal attempts and all seven of his conversion attempts for the Steelers last season after being signed to the practice squad on Nov. 30. His practice-squad contract expired on Jan. 18 and he was not resigned.
Wright was picked up by Detroit but was waived on Aug. 10. He has spent time in training camp for Pittsburgh in 2019 and was cut in late August.
In four seasons at UCF from 2015-18, Wright made 55 of 71 field-goal attempts (.775).
Meyer said hours before the signing that the Jaguars would evaluate "a couple of kickers."
Among the other free-agent kickers available are 16-year veteran Stephen Gostkowski, who was not resigned after making 18 of 26 field-goal attempts for Tennessee last season (including seven of eight from beyond 50 yards); former Miami Hurricane Michael Badgley, who made 24 of 33 attempts for the Chargers last season; and Cody Parkey, who was 19 of 22 for Cleveland last season but was waived in August.
Also on the street is former Florida Gator Eddy Pineiro, who was cut during training camp by Indianapolis and Washington. Pineiro made 23 of 28 field-goal attempts for the Bears in 2019 and missed last year with a groin injury.
Lambo missed two extra-point attempts in Sunday's 31-19 loss to Arizona, continuing a nightmarish beginning to the season in which he also has missed all three of his field-goal attempts.
Prior to this season, Lambo had been the most accurate kicker in the NFL over a four-year span, making 76 of 80 field-goal attempts (.950) since the Jags acquired him in October of 2017. Lambo had never missed a field-goal attempt at TIAA Bank Field, making 41 in a row, until missing the first of two attempts against Denver two weeks ago.
Meyer said early Monday afternoon that he had not yet spoken to Lambo, since the first team meeting wasn't scheduled until 2:30 p.m. He said he did not talk to Lambo after the game but continued to praise him for his past track record in the league and his work habits.
"The one thing I respect about him is he is as hard a working if not the hardest-working specialist I've ever had," Meyer said, repeating a common refrain throughout Lambo's slump. "There's also the reality ... you have to make kicks. There's nothing about attitude, nothing about work ethic. The reality is that ball's got to go through."
Lambo's miss at the end of the half against the Cardinals put a bit of a buzzkill on Jamal Agnew's 109-yard return of a missed Matt Prater field-goal attempt of 68 yards and left the Jags with a 13-7 lead. In the euphoria of the historic return, the longest in team history and tying the NFL record for the longest scoring return, not many in the crowd noticed.
They noticed the next miss, which came after James Robinson scored late in the third quarter to give the Jaguars a 19-10 lead. Meyer sent Lambo out again, instead of going for a two-point conversion, and when Lambo missed, the fans rained boos on down on him.
Lambo never got another attempt, because the Jags had three turnovers and a punt on their final four possessions. He had at least made five conversion attempts in a row before the first miss but missed field-goal attempts of 55 yards against Houston and 48 and 52 yards against Denver.
There is no pattern -- he has missed both right, left and short.
Lambo all over the place in training, preseason
Lambo had an inconsistent training camp, then made 2 of 4 field-goal attempts in the first two preseason games.
In the final practice before going to Dallas for the final preseason game, Lambo missed his final three attempts. However, he made both attempts against the Cowboys, of 34 and 45 yards.
Meyer had opened up the kicking competition between Lambo and Aldrick Rosas, the last of five kickers the Jags brought in to replace Lambo when hip and hamstring injuries limited him to four games last season.
Lambo still made all five of his field-goal attempts in 2020 but missed two conversion tries, the last against Houston at home that eventually forced the Jags to go for two points after rookie quarterback Jake Luton scored to cut the lead to 27-25. The attempt failed, ending one of the Jags' best chances of winning during their 15-game losing streak.
However, Rosas was cut the day after players reported for camp and is now starting for New Orleans, where he has missed two attempts of 50 yards or longer but has converted all 10 of his extra-point attempts.
Rosas has made one field goal this season: at TIAA Bank Field, when the Saints beat the Packers 38-3 in a game moved to Jacksonville because of Hurricane Ida damage to New Orleans.
Following the Dallas game, Lambo said he had not lost his confidence.
“Confidence is as high as ever,” he said. “The funny thing about you guys reporting on me. You have no idea what’s going on in my head. Just because I miss a kick, doesn’t mean I’m not confident. I’m as confident as ever. I’m as good of a kicker, if not better, than I’ve ever been, so I’m right on track.”