Undrafted rookie kicker Caleb Shudak will play in his first NFL game for the Tennessee Titans against the Cincinnati Bengals at Nissan Stadium on Sunday.
Shudak is the second kicker to fill in for Randy Bullock, who misses his second game after suffering a calf injury earlier this month. Josh Lambo, who missed an extra point, clinched the win last Thursday in Green Bay.
Shudak, who played collegiately in Iowa, had spent the entire 2022 season and most of training camp on the physically incapable player list before being called up earlier this week.
Here’s what you should know about the Titans’ new kicker:
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Did the better part of a season as the main kicker in Iowa
Shudak handled kickoffs for the Hawkeyes in 2019 and 2020 before getting his shot as the primary kicker in 2021.
The senior hit 24 of 28 field goals, including 4 of 6 from 50+ yards, with his longest kick coming from 51 yards. He made all 36 extra points and had touchbacks on 70% of kickoffs in 2021.
Shudak was named Third Team AP All-America and First Team All-Big Ten after the season. Not bad for someone who had to wait until his sixth-year season to become the team’s main kicker.
It set up Shudak to at least have an NFL training camp schedule ahead of the 2022 season.
His father competed against rival Iowa State
Kicking is in Shudak’s gene pool; His father Jeff was a four-year kicker for Iowa State from 1987 to 1990.
Jeff Shudak scored two game-winning field goals and one other game-defining field goal in his four years at Ames, The Gazette in Iowa reported. Jeff’s streak of 11 consecutive field goals was the longest in Iowa State Program history at the time and now stands as the second-best mark in school history.
It should be noted that Iowa State lost all four games to Iowa while Jeff Shudak was in school.
An injury ended any chance of competing at the Titans training camp
Shudak was signed by the Titans after the spring NFL draft as a preseason return leg and a possible rival for incumbent Randy Bullock, who signed a two-year contract with the team after a successful stint in 2021.
The rookie has been solid enough all summer, but a leg injury forced Shudak onto the PUP list ahead of training camp. He remained on this list throughout preseason and moved to the PUP/Reserve list during the regular season. It benefited both the team and the player; Shudak could rehab his injury, and the Titans could activate him if he was healthy and needed, or otherwise keep him for next season.
That chance came on November 26 when he was activated from the PUP list after the Titans relinquished Lambo and an injured Bullock (Wade) remained on the injury report.
On Sunday, Shudak will compete for the Titans, forming an all-rookie tandem against the Bengals alongside punter Ryan Stonehouse.