This season started out with a spotlight on two guys who are used to staying in the background.
Kickers Nate Kaeding and Nick Novak.
Unlike other Chargers’ hopefuls fighting for a spot who had a chance to prove themselves on almost every down, these two only had one chance per drive, at best, to show off their stuff.
They couldn’t rush as hard as they could every down like a hopeful linebacker. They couldn’t protect quarterback Phillip Rivers like their life depended on it every time the ball was snapped. They had to wait. Wait for the Chargers to drive down the field, miss making a touchdown and then they had the chance to prove they should earn the starting spot.
Kickers are used to waiting, that wasn’t the issue. The debate was whether the Bolts were going to go with tried-and-true Kaeding, or potentially up-and-coming Novak.
Kaeding has taken a lot of heat for his lackluster performance in the playoffs. But let’s crunch some numbers.
Kaeding’s career field goal percentage is 86.975. He leads all other kickers in the NFL. He is two for seven in the month of January. Since he joined the team in 2004, his missed field goal has made the difference in two playoff games. Coincidentally, both losses were to the New York Jets at home.
Of Kaeding’s 101 games with the Chargers, only 5 losses can be credited to a missed field goal.
Last year, he missed the season because of an injury sustained during the first kickoff of the season. Friday, Kaeding injured his groin in practice.
Novak had very little time to get ready before his flight to Kansas City with the team.
During the game, Novak was 100%. Last year, when Novak took over for the injured Kaeding, he was 79.4%.
Novak got the boot during training camp when the rehabbed Kaeding came back. He was ready at the drop of a hat to try and prove himself again, as he did when he was recalled for the Chiefs game.
The question has now become, when Kaeding is healthy, should he be given his starting spot back? Or, is Kaeding proving to be injury-prone after having to miss the 2011 season, as well as indefinitely out for this one?
Head coach Norv Turner has said that he doubts Kaeding’s injury is severe enough to place him on injured reserve.
But for now, Novak will be the one traveling to New Orleans this weekend to take on the Saints.
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