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Top Takeaways from the Kicking Competition


Back on Sunday, Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said, "we're in a competition" when referring to the kicking game.

The team currently has three kickers on its roster including returning vet Michael Badgley along with Tristan Vizcaino and Alex Kessman.

"Those guys are going at it," Staley mentioned. "What we wanted to do [Sunday] was make sure that all three of them had an opportunity to compete, making sure that they had a consistent holder, a consistent snapper, so that we could evaluate them accordingly."

"It's competition," Badgley stated. "It's why you play the game. It's part of why you like football, why you love being in sports; the competition always brings out the best in people. That's how I am always approaching the game. Competition is always going to be there."

On Wednesday, Chargers special teams coordinator Derius Swinton provided an update on that group.

"It's been good," Swinton said. "Every guy every day has been working on something. Sunday was a good day to get out in the stadium … Getting back into an NFL stadium, getting back in front of fans, I think that was a good experience for him. All of them would tell you, as any specialist would tell you, they want to hit every kick. The reality of it is that we didn't. That's just something that we have to get better at."

Swinton mentioned that they're "embracing" the challenge of turning misses into makes noting that practice is the time to work out those kinks.

He also talked about Badgley.

"As a high school quarterback, he's embraced competition," Swinton noted. "I think that he's really embraced that. He's hard on himself. He's just getting himself to where he needs to be, peaking at the right time. I like the way that he's been working and progressing every day."

As for what this trio has been specifically working on? A focus in camp has been on longer-range field goals.

"For a lot of these guys, that's where they struggle," he mentioned. "That's why we, in practice, try to focus on those areas because that's where most of them are going to come. Most offenses stop outside of the 25-yard line, in that area — the 30- to 25-yard line, that's where offenses get stopped. When they get inside of the 25-yard line, most offenses score points at a higher clip for getting touchdowns. That's why we really focus on that and that's why you see that area miss more than not."

The next challenge for this group will be in the preseason. The first preseason game for the Bolts kicks off at 7:00 p.m. PT on Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams.

Swinton didn't disclose his plan for the kickers in terms of who we'll see on Saturday, so stay tuned.

Odds & Ends

2020 7th round pick K.J. Hill touched on the importance of this in-person offseason and how beneficial it's been for him heading into year two: "I'm very comfortable with it right now. I had OTAs this year, so that was a big thing for me. I had OTAs where we ran those same plays in the spring, so coming into summer, I had an idea of what the playbook was and what was going on. In my first year, I didn't have that. I just came in and it was time to play. This year, coming into year two, it's way easier. I wish [this was the way] I had come in as a rookie."

Badgley on what he worked on this offseason: "A little bit of everything, whether it was kickoffs or field goals. Getting the legs sharp, getting my lines down to what I am comfortable doing, getting some power put into that leg and kind of working on all assets of the game. Maybe focused more on the kickoff stuff. I had a great offseason built into this and was ready to go for it this camp."

Swinton on evaluating a strong-legged kicker vs. one who's more accurate: "That's like saying, 'What if I have a guy that can hit three-pointers and a guy that can hit lay-ups?' It's all sports relative. You just want to put the ball through the uprights. It really comes down to accuracy. At the end of the day, if it's quarterbacks, it's about completing passes. If it's about kickers, it's about making kicks. If it's about fullbacks, it's about making blocks. It's a production-based business. That's what I tell these guys. It really is about who has the higher production. Then, we work from there, numbers-wise, on distances and what you need to work on, because you're not going to be perfect, but you really want the guy that, all-around, gives you consistency in all areas."

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