Ohio State's Pettrey replaces Nugent; Deals done?; Bengals add veteran tackle

Posted Nov 16, 2010

Updated: 7:30 p.m.

Rookie Aaron Pettrey got the call Monday morning while he was selling merchandise at his part-time job in the Buckeye Room near the Ohio State campus. His boss gave him the rest of the day off as well as Tuesday. Now he may have to find a replacement for the rest of the season.

After stopping at Chipotle for dinner, Pettrey made the trek to Cincinnati on Monday night before selling the Bengals on Tuesday in a derby with two others at rainy Paul Brown Stadium that won him the kicking job to replace Mike Nugent, the fellow former Buckeye lost for the season Sunday with what is believed to be a torn ACL in his kicking knee.

“I know him well and I feel so bad for him,” Pettrey said Tuesday afternoon. “It was great to see him back hitting the ball well after he struggled in Tampa last year. He was back where he was before.”

The NFL is a funny place. Now Pettrey, a Raceland, Ky., native who grew up about 90 minutes from Cincinnati, is in the place where he always wanted to be after getting cut in Carolina and Detroit before the start of this season.

More irony? Pettrey hurt his medial collateral ligament late last season when the Buckeyes played New Mexico State and missed the season’s last four games before he came back to kick in Ohio State’s win in the Rose Bowl.

He still led the Big Ten with 72 points and 14 field goals and finished his four-year career with 74.3 percent field-goal accuracy on 29 of 39.

“It feels good; hurting the MCL isn’t bad as the ACL,” he said.

But there is still a question if the Bengals are going to pursue Jeff Reed, cut Tuesday by the Steelers. They won't know until after Wednesday at 4 p.m., if has cleared waivers and is a free agent. No one thinks he'll be claimed because he's carrying the one-year franchise tag for a salary and he's having the worst year of his career at 15-for-22. Yet he's also a nine-year veteran that has an 81.9 field-goal percentage and was the most accurate kicker in the NFL during the previous three seasons with a combined 10 misses.

Meanwhile, Pettrey has never been to a regular-season NFL game, never mind kicked in one. He was waived by the Panthers on June 17 and signed with Detroit two weeks later. He wanted to learn under Lions veteran Jason Hanson, but he played in one preseason game and was cut the day after he missed his only field-goal try, a 42-yarder against the Steelers.

“I actually made the first one, but Tomlin called a timeout; I guess to ice me, but I don’t know why,” said Pettrey of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. "It was the third quarter.”

Since then, Pettrey has been working at the Buckeye Room, giving kicking lessons, and kicking himself with the help of his college long-snapper Jake McQuaide, a product of Cincinnati’s Elder High School. He said he had no problem with Tuesday’s uncooperative weather kicking against Shane Andrus and Hunter Lawrence.

“It was raining pretty good,” he said. “Not too windy, it was a little cold. Good old Ohio weather. I’m used to it. I’ve kicked in worse. At Northwestern and Michigan State, it was blowing snow.”

Special teams coach Darrin Simmons supervised the workout in which the candidates each kicked off nine times and tried 15 field goals with long snapper Clark Harris and holder Kevin Huber.

"I worked him out coming out of college back in the spring and he did a good job at the combine," Simmons said. "He's kicked in some big games at Ohio State and he's been around some NFL programs. He's not coming in from the cold."   

Also Tuesday the Bengals filled the roster spot of cornerback Morgan Trent by signing free agent tackle Kirk Chambers, a sixth-year veteran out of Stanford. The 6-7, 315-pound Chambers has played in 67 games and nine of his 14 starts came last season for Buffalo. A sixth-round draft choice of Cleveland in 2004, he played for the Browns in 2004-05, sat out 2006, and played from 2007-09 in Buffalo. He was with the Bills during the 2010 preseason and was released Sept. 4.

The Bengals also signed tackle Andrew Gardner to the practice squad. The 6-6, 305-pound Gardner is a second-year player out Georgia Tech who was a sixth-round pick of Miami and was on the Dolphins roster all last season whle playing in one game. He was with the Dolphins in the 2010 preseason and was released Sept. 4. He has spent time this season on the Baltimore and Minnesota practice squads before the Vikings released him last week.


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