Training camp is right around the corner, and as always, there are several key storylines to keep an eye on at this point in the offseason.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll highlight some of the more noteworthy ones set to play out at Jack Hammett Sports Complex as well as during the preseason.
Who Wins the Punter Job?
It certainly appears that Michael Badgley is locked in as the team’s kicker considering he’s the only one on the roster.
Oh, and he just happened to author the most efficient kicking season in Chargers history last year, converting 93.8 percent of his field goal attempts, good for the best single season percentage ever by a Bolts kicker.
The punter spot, on the other hand, is a different story.
In what figures to be a close battle all the way through the end of camp, the Chargers have two talented punters on the roster aiming to win the job.
The first is Ty Long, a CFL import who signed with the Bolts in mid-January. He played two seasons for the BC Lions in the Great White North, leading the league with a 48.3 yards per punt average over that span, including a long of 75 yards.
Known for his booming leg, Long’s already put it on display at Hoag Performance Center, forcing Special Teams Coordinator – Assistant Head Coach George Stewart to take notice.
“Ty is a right-footed punter,” he explained. “He did a great job in the CFL. You have to imagine, now, that he’s up there kicking in adverse conditions. That’s one thing that — with our schedule when we play some East Coast teams — he’s going to do a great job for us…. (He’s) is a strong-legged guy with great get-off. He’s a directional punter, so he does a nice job of putting the ball both to the right and the left. That big field that they have in Canada, it benefits us because he had to kick wider, which would put the ball in the corners for us, in terms of his punts. We’re looking for a big job from him.”
To win the job, he’ll have to fend off the equally talented Tyler Newsome, who signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chargers in May out of Notre Dame. Newsome owns several school records including career punt average (44.0) and single-game punt average (59.6 vs. Vanderbilt in 2018). The 6-3, 214-pounder also landed 75 of his 225 punts inside the 20 while blasting 72 of them at least 50 yards. He also possesses a powerful leg with a career-long of 71 yards.
If the offseason program is any indication, this decision could come down to the wire.
"(The) Tys are looking good to be honest with you,” Head Coach Antony Lynn told reporters. “Like I said, right now it's a heck of a competition out there.... Kicking a ball and putting them in situations where they're competing against one another in front of the whole team — everyone is watching — helps a little bit. That's a unique position where you don't get to do that a lot with the other positions. The preseason games, those will be the big tell."