With an unexpected injury to kicker Michael Badgley, Los Angeles Chargers fans were left concerned about the kicking game in Week 1.
However, punter Ty Long delivered on his way to AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
On Friday, September 6, Badgley was downgraded to questionable for the Chargers season opener against the Indianapolis Colts. The next day, downgraded to doubtful and some questions began to arise about the kicking game.
Sure, Long had some experience in the CFL as a kicker, but he was the punter and only the punter for a reason. The coaching staff was going to roll with the first great kicker in recent memory for the Bolts. However, any doubt that fans had was quickly laid to rest after Week 1.
Backup kicker and starting punter Long spoke with Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times.
“Trying not to throw up yesterday and this morning. Once I got on the field, I was fine. It’s when you don’t have control of anything and you’re thinking of the opportunity. I’ll be honest with you, I almost threw up a few times”
Luckily, as stated, when on the field he was as cool as ice. Long kicked a 40-yard field goal on the Chargers’ first scoring drive Sunday against Indianapolis which was a no-doubter right off of his foot. Along with that, he nailed three extra points.
While that may not seem like quite the accomplishment, keep in mind that not even experienced NFL kickers can all convert on the PATs. The Colts themselves had a rough day with kicker Adam Vinatieri missing two field goals (46 and 29 yards) as well as an extra point.
Last, Long punted the ball twice on the day, and both were downed inside the 20-yard line. The Colts began those two drives following the punts at the 14 and 10-yard lines, respectively.
All in all, a day that could have been very nerve-racking could have also ended up catastrophic and cost the Chargers a crucial season-opening win. However, Long picked up Special Teams Player of the Week honors in his NFL debut, along with showing the coaching staff they may not need to press the panic button if any issues arise with Badgley.