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Why the Bolts Made the Switch from Koo to Novak
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Nick Novak has been through this enough times to know what to expect.
Whether it was with the Texans, twice with the Chargers and other stops along the way, Novak has been called upon to be a midseason replacement.
However, what he isn’t used to is getting the call to come workout on a Wednesday for a Thursday tryout. Traditionally, teams will reach out to free agent kickers on a Monday night for a Tuesday tryout. Nonetheless, when the Bolts reached out, Novak hopped in his car and quickly made his way to Hoag Performance Center.
“It was kind of a shock to get the call,” he explained. “Wasn’t expecting that on a Wednesday. But (I’m) excited. I’m just focused on being a good teammate and doing my job.”
After an early morning workout, the team opted to make the switch, going with the veteran.
“Right now, we feel like Nick was the best choice,” Head Coach Anthony Lynn explained. “Nick’s been a very accurate kicker in this league for a long time, and he’s been here before. We’re familiar with him, and his experience in big games (was important). As you know, every game we’ve played so far has been a close game, and every play, every point matters.”
So why the decision now, after Koo made both field goal attempts last week after beginning his career missing three of his first four?
“Two weeks ago, Koo was kicking the ball fine,” answered Lynn. “He had the one bad outing in Miami. Players have a bad day, or a bad game every once in a while. But watching him over the last couple weeks, pregame, in practice, I’ve seen enough. It was time to bring in someone with a little more consistency, and someone with more experience.”
Novak certainly fits that description.
The 10-year veteran has made 173 of 209 career field goal attempts (82.8-percent) over 111 career games for the Chargers, Redskins, Cardinals, Chiefs and Texans. He’s one of the most successful kickers in franchise history, converting 101 of 117 kicks during a four-year stint from 2011-14. His 86.3-percent field goal percentage ranks second in team history, while his 101 field goals rank fourth and 889 total points are seventh.
While Novak has suited up for a number of teams, he admitted there’s something special about being a Charger.
“I take a lot of pride in wearing the lightning bolt, and the name on the back of the jersey. Like I said, I just want to be a good teammate. It’s great to play. It’s not so fun being out there watching. It’s good to be back here with Mike Windt. I worked with (Drew) Kaser for the first time today. It’s exciting to work together and get a few practices in before we go.”
His experience taking over in the middle of a campaign is also a boost.
“Just getting in a rhythm (is most important),” he explained. It’s nice to have (Windt) here. I know exactly how he goes about his business. I got with Kaser right away, just kind of getting in a rhythm. I’ve done this before. It happens that quick. You’ve always got to stay ready. That week where you stop kicking, or you relax, that’s when you get the call. But I haven’t done that. After doing it for 20 years, (I’m) just wired. Just trying to stay ready. I enjoy being out there with the guys kicking.”
Still, it’s important to note that despite moving on and going with Novak, the Bolts still think highly of Koo’s talent.
“I think Koo is going to have a long NFL career,” Lynn said. “I told him, this happens to a lot of rookies. A lot of rookies get cut early in their career, and then come back and play for a lot of years. He may be back here, who knows?”
“Koo’s a very talented kicker,” added Novak. “He’s got a live leg, and a lot of talent. I went to the game last week with my wife and watched him warm up. Watched him throughout the game. I was impressed with his leg strength and all that.” Read