Player Spotlights

Kicking into a Plot Hole?


Sometimes, when covering a team, writers have to go looking for a story. Other times, the story writes itself.

For example, when the Chargers spent a sixth-round pick on FB Derek Watt, reuniting him with former Wisconsin running mate Melvin Gordon? Great story. And when the Chargers allowed first-round pick Joey Bosa to announce the team’s fourth-round selection, only for Bosa to discover he was introducing his former college teammate, Joshua Perry? Again, great story.

The Chargers created another great story when they spent a sixth-round pick on Texas A&M punter Drew Kaser. The selection reunited Kaser with former Aggies teammate Josh Lambo and completed a two-year makeover of San Diego’s kicking game.

“I’m obviously really excited to be back with Kaser,” Lambo said just days after the draft. “We’ve stayed in touch and texted probably every week since I left A&M. He’s a great football player and an even better person.”

While the Kaser-Lambo story looks neat and tidy, there is just one problem: Lambo misses a lot of kicks.

Lambo connected on 81 percent of his kicks as a rookie, a conversion rate that ranked No. 27 amongst qualifying kickers. He was also one of just six kickers to miss four or more extra points.

Even Lambo’s best moment was nearly a disaster. He kicked a game-winning field goal in a Week 4 win over the Browns, but only after an offsides penalty on Cleveland negated a miss on his first attempt.

Lambo did not get much heat for his rocky rookie year, mostly because the season slipped away before it even reached the midway point.

For example, when Lambo missed his sixth field goal of the season in a Week 16 game in Oakland — a contest the Chargers lost by three points — no one wanted to throw the erratic rookie under the bus. By that point, Chargers fans were more worried about draft positioning and relocation than a meaningless December game.

The optimistic expectation is this season will go better for the Bolts. If it does, Lambo must be better, as well.

Interestingly, the Chargers have not even brought in a kicker to share the offseason workload with Lambo. Perhaps that is because they want him to take as many practice reps as possible. Or, maybe, the team does not want him losing confidence or looking over his shoulder.

Whatever the reason, this is Lambo’s job for the foreseeable future.

There are numerous resources available to Lambo as he looks to elevate his game. One intriguing option is the Carney Training Facility in Carlsbad, led by legendary former Chargers kicker John Carney.

In an exclusive interview with SDBR last October, Carney said he “would be happy to work with” Lambo.

“Lambo is a very talented kid, but he is going to go through some learning curves,” Carney said.

Here’s hoping that learning curve straightens out in Lambo’s second season, and that his kicks follow suit. Otherwise, this seemingly great story will wind up in the recycling bin.

About Michael Lombardo

Michael Lombardo has covered the San Diego Chargers since 2003. He spent 12 years covering the team for and has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports, Football Insiders and MySpace Sports.

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