For the first time since the late Rob Bironas was their guy back in 2013, the Tennessee Titans will have someone not named Ryan Succop handling field goals and kickoffs to begin the 2019 season.

On Wednesday morning, the Titans placed Succop on injured reserve. To replace him, they signed veteran Cairo Santos.

“Ryan won’t be able to kick this week and in the weeks going forward,” head coach Mike Vrabel said. “We understand that. That’s why we’ve got a guy in here that we feel really comfortable about and that looked really good.”

Santos spent the end of the 2018 season and 2019 Training Camp with the Buccaneers. The team released him on August 31 as a part of their final roster cuts.

“I’m only here to make every single kick and worry about one game at a time to help the team win,” Santos said. “If it’s for eight games until [Succop] comes back or for the whole season, I’ll just worry about one game at a time.”

“Strong leg, very accurate in the workouts that we had,” Vrabel said when asked to evaluate Santos. “Today, I think he earned the respect of his teammates, which is critical.”

This transaction was a bit surprising since Succop kicked for the Titans in both of their final two preseason games. He missed all of Training Camp with an injury.

“I wouldn’t really say it’s a setback,” Succop said. “I think my knee is doing really well. As I was telling these guys earlier, I just don’t quite have that pop back in my leg that I need. Sometimes when you have some swelling for a while, it takes a little while longer for that to come back.

“It’s progressing well, it’s just not where it needs to be yet. It wouldn’t be fair to the team for me to go out there and kick right now, because I know I can’t do it to the level that I need to.”

The NFL’s rules for IR allow teams to bring back two players over the course of the year, so long as they made the team’s initial 53-man roster and have sat out for at least eight games.

Succop is hoping that his progress over the next few months will allow the Titans to take advantage of that.

“Yeah, absolutely. I’m going to use these next 7 or 8 weeks, whatever it is, to continue to get stronger. I think I’ll come back and be stronger than I was before, really. I think we’re doing a lot of good stuff, and I trust the process. I think we’ll be in really good shape.”

Succop and Santos have a relationship dating back to the 2014 preseason when the two players battled during Training Camp for the Kansas City Chiefs’ starting job. Santos won that competition, and Succop was released and subsequently signed by the Titans.

“I’ve been friends with Cairo for about 6 years, now,” Succop said. “He’s done well, and I’ll do everything I can to help him jump in. Hopefully, he can kick well and help us out. I think he’ll do a good job for us.”

“I actually reached out to Ryan because he’s a guy I admire a lot,” Santos said, “not only as a player but as a person. We’ve stayed in touch ever since we were out in Kansas City together. I was afraid it was something serious with his knee, and I was hoping it wouldn’t be that. But I told him I respect him.”

Since joining the NFL in 2014, Santos Has made 83.2% of his field-goal attempts. Succop’s mark during that span sits just a bit higher at 86.6%. Santos’ career-long is 53-yards.

Cover image: Jim Brown & Douglas DeFelice/USA Today