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10 Things to Watch: The Kicking Competitions

Head Coach Anthony Lynn doesn't mince words. In fact, his authenticity and candid nature has endeared him to his players throughout the offseason.

Simply put, if something is on the coach's mind, he'll make sure you know it.

That's why the kicking game will be under the microscope when training camp kicks off.

From the moment Lynn was hired, he's routinely stressed how the team's recent performance on special teams is unacceptable.  The third phase of the ball has been an Achilles Heel in recent years, particularly in 2016. The head coach pointed out a need to improve in coverage and in the return game, but also pointed toward a need for better consistency from his kickers.

Thus, while the Bolts remain high on kicker Josh Lambo and punter Drew Kaser, he noted there is open competition across the board.  As such, the team brought in a pair of rookies in kicker Younghoe Koo and punter Toby Baker.

At kicker, the incumbent Lambo enters his third season ranked sixth on the franchise's all-time list with 52 career made field goals. He connected on 26 of 32 attempts (81.3-percent) a year ago with a long of 47.  His top moment came in Atlanta when he made all four field goal attempts, including the game winner in overtime. Blessed with a powerful leg, his 67 touchbacks led the NFL.

Meanwhile, Koo signed as an undrafted free agent immediately after the draft out of Georgia Southern. He was a first-team All-Sun Belt pick in 2016, ranking second in the country in field goal percentage as he made 19 of his 20 attempts.  Koo left Georgia Southern as the school's all-time record holder for career field goal percentage (88.6%), connecting on 31 of 35 attempts.

At punter, Kaser is embarking on his second season after being selected in the sixth round of the 2016 draft.  He averaged 46.3 yards on his 59 punts, including a long of 69 while placing 18 inside the 20. Kaser's 46.3-yard averaged ranked 10th  in the NFL and is the third highest in Chargers history. His most memorable performance came Week 6 against the Denver Broncos when he was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.  Kaser placed four of his five punts inside the 20 that day with memorable blasts of 60 and 59 yards.

Finally, Baker inked a deal with the Bolts after impressing as a rookie mini camp invite. The Arkansas product averaged 43.0 yards per punt over 27 games for the Razorbacks.  He booted 27 punts of at least 50 yards, including a career-high of 60 yards, while 45 of his attempts landed inside the 20.


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