The Los Angeles Chargers, who seemed to finally have their kicking situation under control last season, are back to hoping and praying the ball goes through the uprights.
Michael Badgley, who has not appeared in the regular season due to a groin injury, has been downgraded to doubtful for Sunday’s contest with the Houston Texans and will miss his third straight game.
After watching the way Ty Long kicked in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, there was no reason to be concerned. But having to throw Long, the punter, back out there after the way he kicked in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions brings about some concern.
What started out as a great story with Long stepping in for his injured teammate quickly turned into a questionable decision by the team. The NFL is often called a week-to-week league and as a result, so are the “hot takes” for those who analyze the game.
Yes, Long kicked field goals in college and in the Canadian Football League. But that’s not what he’s on the roster of the Chargers to do. He is supposed to be the punter and the emergency kicker. Three weeks is beyond an emergency.
The Chargers made multiple mistakes in the loss to Detroit and while Long should absolutely not be blamed for that loss, his two missed loomed large in the three-point defeat.
It’s tough to determine exactly what to do with injured players when league roster limits allow just 53 players.
The Chargers likely don’t want to put Badgley on injured reserve if they feel he can be back soon as only two players are allowed to be brought back from the injured reserve list during the season. With Derwin James already there and 14 games still to play, the team wants to keep its options open with injured reserve.
Because of that, Badgley counts against the 53-man roster whether he plays or not. Still, the Chargers should think about signing another kicker if this groin injury is going to keep him out any longer. That idea should have already been explored.
If the Chargers were to lose another game by three points and Long missed multiple field goals, it would be every bit the fault of the front office as it would Long’s. Plenty of teams each season bring in a kicker for a game or two to get them by.
The team released Chris Peace last week in order to call Andre Patton up from the practice squad. After the game against the Lions, the team released Patton, brought back Peace and then put Patton back on the practice squad.
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The team could release Peace and bring in an additional kicker until Badgley is ready to get back on the field. Badgley would still count against the 53-man roster, but he will unless the team places him on injured reserve.
Some potential short-term kickers who are available include Giorgio Tavecchio, Kai Forbath and Cody Parkey. No, those might not be top-of-the-line choices, but this double-duty stuff with Long is not productive.
It’s concerning that it sounds like Badgley is going to play during the week and by the end of the week, he’s downgraded to a doubtful status. That is a sign that when he tries to give it a full go, the groin flares up.
This is a situation the Chargers might have to evaluate a little bit better going into Week 4.