One of the most troublesome groups in the 2010s, the Chargers’ special teams units have been a rogue’s gallery of horrors at times. From a revolving door of kickers to various other special teams gaffes (like Mike Scifres getting destroyed in 2014) or three blocked punts in 2020, the Chargers have not had the best luck with the third unit.
However, things seem to have taken a turn for the better last season (knock on wood) with the emergence of Dustin Hopkins as a steady kicker and returner Andre Roberts being selected as a second-team All-Pro. The Chargers were ranked as the fourth-best kick return team in the league last season and were a top ten squad in field goal accuracy.
While Hopkins will be returning in 2022, the Bolts opted not to renew the aging Roberts’ contract. Also, the unit will feature a plethora of new faces at three different spots (punter, kick returner and long snapper), along with a new special teams coordinator.
What the new additions could mean for the Chargers' special teams:
Punter: Battle between J.K. Scott & Ty Long
Another player whose starting spot is in most jeopardy following free agency (probably more than Drue Tranquill, but whatever), veteran Ty Long will have a tough battle in training camp against new signee J.K. Scott. Long has been with the Bolts since 2019 and has been a versatile and serviceable presence for the Chargers as their punter.
The UAB product has done it all for the Bolts from punting (46.5 yards/game NFL career average) to kicking field goals (seven for nine in his career) and extra points along with kickoff duties. After signing an exclusive-rights free agent tender with the Chargers in March of 2021, Long is gearing up for potentially a boom-or-bust season with Los Angeles.
Entering the mix is Scott who is coming off a somewhat disappointing stint with the Green Bay Packers after a stellar collegiate career. A two-time CFP national champion with Alabama and a three-time All-SEC selection (including two first-team picks), Scott certainly has the resume of an excellent punter. However, his time in Green Bay ended after the Packers traded for punter Corey Bojorquez and he was released as part of their final roster cuts.
During his three-year tenure with the Pack, he averaged around 44.6 yards per punt and had an average of 21 kicks placed inside the 20-yard line per season. If Scott can return to his collegiate form, then he can find a place as the Bolts’ punter, but Long has proven he can be a solid presence for the Chargers thanks to his versatility and familiarity with the team.