Aldrick Rosas does not want this to begin quietly.
After becoming the first kicker without NFL experience to make the Giants’ roster in 15 years, Rosas will go into AT&T Stadium for Sunday night’s season opener against the Cowboys, and he is hoping the outcome comes down to a field-goal attempt.
“I (like) any time I get in the spotlight, or any time I get a chance to put points up on the board,” the 22-year-old told Newsday.
And if that means kicking the deciding field goal in the final moments in front of a raucous crowd of 100,000 in a nationally televised game?
“I wish all 16 games were game-winning kicks,” Rosas said.
Clearly, this is a young man who doesn’t lack confidence.
Barely a week after locking up a roster spot with a perfect preseason — 8-for-8 on field goals, 6-for-6 on extra points — Rosas is ready to go. He no longer has to concern himself with making the team after beating out Mike Nugent, which has narrowed his focus.
“Now the competition isn’t going on anymore, and I can go out freely, clear the mind and do my job,” he said. “It makes it a lot easier, building chemistry with (holder) Brad (Wing) and (long snapper) Zack (DeOssie). It’s just me going on all cylinders now. It’s great. Feel really good coming in.”
Rosas tried out for the Titans last year before losing out to former Chief Ryan Succop. He’s the first kicker to make the Giants’ roster without the benefit of playing in a regular-season game since Matt Bryant in 2002. Bryant kicked for two seasons before being released in Tom Coughlin’s first training camp in 2004. Rosas would be fortunate if he lasts as long as Bryant. At 42, Bryant is the Falcons’ kicker and preparing for his 16th NFL season.
First things first, though. Despite an impressive preseason, Rosas needs to prove he’s a reliable NFL kicker in a big spot. He believes he will do just that, as he did on his final kick of the preseason, a moment that cemented his win over Nugent. Rosas nailed a 48-yarder as time expired to give the Giants a 40-38 win over the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
A meaningless final score, perhaps, but a significant moment for Rosas. After all, it came in front of the kicker he has modeled himself after.
“Stephen Gostkowski was my role model growing up,” Rosas said, referring to the Patriots’ kicker. The fact that Rosas’ game-winner came after Gostkowski had made the go-ahead field goal made the experience even more meaningful.
“That was fun,” he said. “I’m going to remember that one.”
Rosas didn’t get a chance to speak to Gostkowski that night, but he did make sure to watch him in warmups. “I got up close to look at his form to see it in person,” he said. “It was really cool.”
Rosas, who grew up in the small north-central California town of Orland, didn’t start kicking until his sophomore year in high school. He was a central midfielder in soccer before giving football a try.
“It was a small school. You sign up, you’re in,” said Rosas, who played receiver and outside linebacker. “Our kicker was doing bad and everyone was like, ‘You played soccer, just go kick it.’ I said OK and it felt good, and I’ve been kicking ever since.”
And now the dream has come true: Rosas has made it to the NFL and is ready for his debut on the biggest stage of all.