AFC West: Nate Kaeding

The NFL Network reports left tackle Bryant McKinnie is weighing offers from the Dolphins and the Chargers. He visited San Diego on Wednesday. The Cowboys are also reportedly interested as well.

McKinnie visited the Chargers on Wednesday. The team badly needs a left tackle and if they don’t sign McKinnie, they could pursue former Steelers' tackle Max Starks or give the job to recently-acquired free agent King Dunlap. McKinnie may be the best option. But in this seller's market, McKinnie appears to have options.

In other AFC West notes:

It’s never too early to start thinking about next year's draft. Insider In this Insider piece, Todd McShay offers his preliminary list of top 32 players for the 2014 draft.

U-T San Diego reports former San Diego Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding has retired. He was cut by the team last year.

Chiefs will be lacking at tight end

December, 21, 2012
Don’t expect the tight end position to be a big part of the Chiefs’ offense Sunday against the Colts.

There just aren’t many options.

Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said Friday that tight end Tony Moeaki is doubtful with a head injury. With Moeaki unlikely to play against the Colts, that means the Chiefs will have just one tight end, Steve Maneri, available Sunday. Maneri, a converted offensive lineman, has five catches this season.

Crennel said the team may not add a tight end prior to the game. With the receiving crew missing Dwayne Bowe, expect the Chiefs to try to establish Jamaal Charles and the run game Sunday.

Charles has been good all season, but he had just 10 yards on nine carries in a 15-0 loss at Oakland on Sunday. With the receiving options lacking, Charles will need to establish a ground game to keep the Chiefs in the game.

In other AFC West news:

Former San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding signed with Miami. San Diego cut him earlier this season.

Chargers hurting at receiver

October, 31, 2012
The San Diego Chargers' offense is facing another obstacle as it tries to get out of a slump.

Receiver Eddie Royal (hamstring) is doubtful and fellow receiver Robert Meachem (hamstring) is questionable to face visiting Kansas City on Thursday night. This isn’t going to help an offense that has not scored a touchdown in the past six quarters.

Newly signed receivers Danario Alexander and Seyi Ajirotutu both should get a chance to see some action against the Chiefs.

For Kansas City, defensive end Glenn Dorsey (calf) and cornerback Stanford Routt (hamstring) are both questionable to play. They were both limited in practice Wednesday.

In other AFC West news:

Former San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding offers an interesting perspective on the team in a radio interview.

Punter a bright spot for Chargers

October, 30, 2012
Life is not fun for the Chargers these days, but at least, something is going right.

Punter Mike Scrifres is the ESPN Stats & Information punter of the week.

The Chargers lost their third straight game, 7-6 at Cleveland on Sunday. But Scrifres’ punting added two percent to the Chargers’ chances of winning the game. Scrifres averaged 46.5 yards on six punts and had just two punts returned against him for a total of 7 yards.

His net punting average was 45.3 yards. Scrifres pinned three punts inside the Browns’ 10-yard line. Again, the Chargers wasted Scrifres’ effort, but he has been recognized for his strong game.

In other AFC West news:
The Nate Kaeding era is over in San Diego.

The team placed him on the injured reserve with a groin injury he suffered a few weeks ago. U-T San Diego reports Kaeding will soon be released and he should be healthy enough to kick for another team soon.

Kaeding will get another job. He is the most accurate kicker in regular season history. Yes, he is famous for some post-season flubs, but all in all, his nine-year tenure with the Chargers was a success.

He was well-liked in the locker room and he was strong in the community. Nick Novak has ably replaced Kaeding and Novak did a fine job last season after Kaeding was lost for the season in Week 1.

Again, I know some Chargers’ fans still have hard feelings for Kaeding for his playoff misses, but he had a great career in San Diego and he was a strong Charger. Don’t expect him to land in the AFC West. This division is kicker strong.

Meanwhile, former Chicago first-round pick, tackle Chris Williams, has reportedly signed with the Rams. He talked to the Chargers last week.
Denver guard Chris Kuper, who broke his forearm in August, continued to be limited in practice Wednesday. He practiced on a limited basis all last week but didn’t play in Week 4. Denver coach John Fox said Wednesday that Kuper will be a game-time decision Sunday at New England.

If Kuper doesn’t have a setback, I like his chances of playing if he's had two weeks of solid practices.

In other AFC West news:

San Diego linebacker Donald Butler was named the AFC defensive player of the week for his efforts in a 37-20 victory at Kansas City on Sunday. Butler had a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown in the game.

Don’t read much into the fact that the Chargers have Jackie Battle atop the running-back depth chart instead of Ryan Mathews. Battle started last week for Mathews because of the latter's fumbling issues; Mathews did finish the game. The Chargers know their best bet is to go with Mathews, but he must stay healthy and hold on to the ball.

San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding (groin) is still out. He is expected to be week-to-week. The Chargers meanwhile cut receiver/returner Micheal Spurlock to make room for cornerback Chris Carr.

Denver quarterback Peyton Manning is sixth on Mike Sando’s MVP Watch this week. No other AFC West player is on the 10-man list.

Oakland coach Dennis Allen addressed the reason why he was laughing in the middle of the field with Denver coach Fox after a 31-point Oakland loss Sunday. I got many letters from angry Oakland fans about the photo. Perhaps Allen’s explanation will calm the storm. It sounds reasonable to me.

There is a chance the Raiders’ Oct. 21 home game against Jacksonville could be moved to accommodate an Oakland A’s playoff game. If that is the case, the best bet is that the NFL game would be moved to Monday night.

Asked how much different the Denver offense is now than the unit his team saw in the playoffs in January, New England coach Bill Belichick said “95 percent.” Yep, that’s sounds about right when you switch from Tim Tebow to Manning at quarterback.

There's hope yet for the 1-3 Chiefs and Raiders. For the record, the Raiders have never made the playoffs when they started 1-3.

AFC West notes

October, 2, 2012
Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was back to practice Tuesday for the Raiders during a bye-week workout. He missed the Denver game after suffering a concussion against Pittsburgh -- a hit that forced him to stay overnight at a hospital. Barring a setback, Heyward-Bey should be able to play Oct. 14 at Atlanta.
  • The Broncos signed linebacker Mike Mohamed, wide receiver Bert Reed and offensive tackle Darrion Weems to the practice squad and it cut guard Adam Grant from the squad.
  • The Chargers have announced they signed cornerback Chris Carr. It was first reported Monday. No corresponding move was announced. U-T San Diego reports kicker Nate Kaeding is “week-to-week” with a groin injury. Nick Novak has taken his place.
  • The agent of linebacker Bryan Kehl tweeted his client has signed with the Chiefs. The team has not announced it. The BYU product has bounced around the league.

Around the AFC West

October, 2, 2012
Catching up on the AFC West after a long day of travel:

Kansas coach Romeo Crennel reiterated Monday that Matt Cassel will remain his quarterback this week. Cassel threw three interceptions against San Diego on Sunday. Crennel left things open for debate though when he said “we'll see as the week goes on” if backup Brady Quinn will get any snaps in practice.

I think Crennel is just keeping his options open. He is sticking with Cassel as the starter and that means he will get the majority of the snaps.

UT-San Diego reported cornerback Chris Carr will sign with the Chargers. The Chargers need depth at the position.

San Diego coach Norv Turner said he “would not anticipate” Nate Kaeding kicking for awhile. Kaeding hurt his groin last week and could be put on the injured reserve. He was replaced by Nick Novak in Week 4. Novak took over last year for Kaeding when he went down with a torn ACL in Week 1.

The NFL lifted the suspension of Denver tight end Virgil Green and linebacker Joe Mays. Center J.D. Walton was out on the injured reserve with a broken ankle and the team cut linebacker Mike Mohamed, who was signed last week.

The Raiders made some moves on the practice squad, including cutting receiver Tori Gurley. He was signed last week.

Turner praised defensive coordinator John Pagano for staying focused after hearing last Wednesday that his brother, Colts coach Chuck Pagano, is battling leukemia. Pagano’s group was terrific as it forced six turnovers at Kansas City on Sunday.


AFC West notes

September, 29, 2012
Catching up on the news of the day after arriving in Kansas City:

Denver put safety Quinton Carter on the injured reserve. He will require knee surgery. That means fellow 2011 draft pick Rahim Moore will likely remain the starter. Carter, who took the job from Moore last year, had been expected to push Moore at some point.

Denver promoted safety Duke Ihenacho and linebacker Mike Mohamed from the practice squad. Mohamed was promoted because starter Joe Mays is suspended for Sunday’s game against Oakland for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Matt Schaub last Sunday. Keith Brooking is expected to start for Mays.

San Diego officially announced that kicker Nick Novak has been signed and offensive lineman Reggie Wells has been cut. Novak is replacing kicker Nate Kaeding, who is out for Sunday’s game at Kansas City with a groin injury. Novak kicked for the Chargers last season after Kaeding tore his anterior cruciate ligament.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Kansas City's top receiver, Dwayne Bowe (groin), is expected to play Sunday. He is one of four Chiefs receivers listed as questionable on the injury report.

In addition to receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion), backup Oakland tight end Richard Gordon (hamstring) has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Broncos. Derek Hagan is expected to start for Heyward-Bey.
San Diego left tackle Jared Gaither practiced fully Friday after being limited all week. He is questionable to play Sunday at Kansas City. Gaither has been out since late July with a back injury.

Gaither told U-T San Diego he is ready to play. But he will be a game-time decision. Thursday, San Diego coach Norv Turner said it would be very difficult for Gaither to play. I think it will come down to if the Chargers feel like Gather can quickly shake off the rust.

San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding suffered a groin injury and was listed as questionable on Friday.

Update: U-T San Diego is reporting Nick Novak has been signed and he will kick for Kaeding at Kansas City. Novak was cut earlier this month. He kicked for the Chargers last season after Kaeding tore his ACL.

In other AFC West injury news:

Even though he practiced on a limited basis for the first time since breaking his forearm in mid-August, Denver standout guard Chris Kuper is listed as doubtful to play Sunday against Oakland. I’d think Kuper has a good chance to play next week at New England.

Denver running back Willis McGahee is probable with a rib injury that kept him out of practice Wednesday. Linebacker Nate Irving (concussion) is doubtful, and safely Quentin Carter (knee) is out.

For Oakland, receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (concussion) is doubtful after not practicing all week. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski (groin) is probable after being limited all week. Running back Darren McFadden practiced fully Friday for the first time this week and is probable with a shoulder injury. Tight end Brandon Myers (concussion) has been limited all week, and tight end Richard Gordon practiced fully Friday after not practicing earlier this week with a hamstring injury. They are both listed as questionable.
Click here for the complete list of San Diego Chargers' roster moves.

Most significant move: The Chargers cut former starting fullback (and special-teams ace) Jacob Hester and fellow running back Edwin Baker, a seventh-round pick. The Chargers will go with the likes of Ronnie Brown, Le’Ron McClain, Jackie Battle and Curtis Brinkley early in the season if starter Ryan Mathews (broken clavicle) can’t play in the first couple of games. It was a no-brainer that the team kept kicker Nate Kaeding over Nick Novak. Kaeding, who was replaced by Novak after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in Week 1 last year, was better than Novak in camp and in the preseason.

Onward and upward: The Chargers cut undrafted rookie quarterback Jarrett Lee. The team was high on him, but once again, the team is going with just two quarterbacks: starter Philip Rivers and backup Charlie Whitehurst. Lee is a likely candidate for the practice squad. I can see receiver Mike Willie being put on the practice squad as well. He has potential, but he lacked consistency. I could see Baker as a practice-squad candidate as well. I’d think Hester will get looks elsewhere because of his special-teams availability. Longtime defensive tackle Jacques Cesaire could potentially get looks as the season progresses; there is always a need around the league for a veteran big man. If the Chargers get in a bind, I could see them turning the popular Cesaire, who was a locker-room favorite.

What’s next: Because of injuries, expect the Chargers to look for help at cornerback, tackle, safety and perhaps receiver and running back. Because left tackle Jared Gaither and several cornerbacks are hurt, San Diego could be on the lookout for players who could actually be active in Week 1 at Oakland. One player I fully expect San Diego to target is cornerback Drayton Florence. He’d fit right in as a nickel. Denver cut Florence on Friday. He is a former Charger and San Diego tried to sign him before he went to Denver.

Observation deck: Chargers-49ers

August, 31, 2012

A look at the Chargers’ 35-3 road loss Thursday night:

After being held out last week because of injuries on his offensive line, the Chargers gave quarterback Philip Rivers some late-preseason work. The interception bug hit him again.

Rivers’ night ended with poor red-zone decisions on a ball that was intercepted. Rivers threw four interceptions this summer after being picked off 20 times last season. Thursday’s interception was just a pass Rivers should not have thrown.

It is a worry? Kind of, yes.

Look, preseason mistakes are just that, and Rivers is a fine player. He has thrown the ball well in the preseason. He completed 8 of 10 passes Thursday and he was 24-of-30 this preseason (yes, only two passes Rivers threw in the preseason were not caught). But he has to get out of this interception rut when the season starts.

Rookie defensive lineman Kendall Reyes looked good once again. I expect him to make an instant impact.

Nose tackle Cam Thomas looked good and should play a lot as well.

Watch for the Chargers to look for cornerback help on the waiver wire. They are banged up and their reserves were not good Thursday. The 49ers passed all over the Chargers.

Last year, while with the Chargers, quarterback Scott Tolzien performed well against the 49ers. So well, in fact, the 49ers claimed him when the Chargers cut him. Thursday night, Tolzein might have lost his roster spot when Josh Johnson had a great game for the 49ers. Would the Chargers be tempted to sign Tolzien either as a replacement for Jarrett Lee or as a practice-squader regardless if Lee is kept on the 53-man roster?

Linebacker Bront Bird finished strong and has a chance to make the team when the 53-man roster is finalized Friday.

Unless there is a shocking change of heart, kicker Nate Kaeding makes the team and Nick Novak gets cut.

A look at the Chargers’ 21-13 home win Thursday night:

As Philip Rivers’ said in a sideline interview with ESPN, the Chargers’ offense was good and bad. The good was a 23-yard dart Rivers hit tight end Antonio Gates with for a touchdown. Gates is healthy for the first time since 2007 and he has been outstanding in training camp. That was a good sign.

However, Rivers made a mistake later when Green Bay cornerback Tramon Williams jumped in front of a pass intended for new San Diego receiver Robert Meachem deep in Green Bay territory. It was probably just a matter of timing for Rivers and Meachem. However, Rivers threw 20 interceptions last season and he must improve in that area.
  • The San Diego first-team defense looked strong, which is a great sign. It did allow Green Bay to covert on third down on its first two attempts. San Diego was last in the NFL in third-down defense last year. But overall, San Diego’s first unit looked terrific and aggressive on defense. Overall, the Chargers’ first-team offense and defenses looked further along than the Packers' did.
  • First-round pick Melvin Ingram played extensively. He looked fabulous. If San Diego wasn’t shaking with delight over the prospect of having Ingram before Thursday, it should be now. Boy, is he explosive. He forced Aaron Rodgers into throwing an interception and he was all over the place.
  • Undrafted free-agent quarterback Jarrett Lee looked really good for San Diego and outplayed Green Bay backup Graham Harrell much of the night. He made some big league throws. I’d be shocked if Lee doesn’t make the 53-man roster as the No. 3 quarterback behind Rivers and Charlie Whitehurst, who is still recovering from a knee injury.
  • Reserve receiver Vincent Brown worked hard for the final 7 yards of a 27-yard touchdown pass from Lee, and Brown had a good night overall. I think he will be a key contributor in the season.
  • Running back Ryan Mathews hurt his shoulder and was taken out. There is no word on the status. It is not a surprise that he was taken out after the injury even if it was minor. Update: the San Diego Union-Tribune reports Mathews suffered a broken clavicle. He will be out four to six weeks. I will have more this later.
  • Kicker Nick Novak missed a 35-yard field goal attempt, further making Nate Kaeding the favorite to win the kicking competition. Novak replaced Kaeding last season when Kaeding tore his ACL on the opening kickoff of the season.
  • Receiver/returner Michael Spurlock is making a big push to make the 53-man roster. He had two catches for 52 yards.
  • Undrafted free-agent left tackle Mike Harris started for the injured Jared Gaither. Harris had a nice night, which is commendable for an undrafted rookie who started his first preseason game at a premium position. Harris should easily make the team.
  • It was a cool scene to see some San Diego players greet replacement official Shannon Eastin prior to the game. She is the first woman to officiate an NFL game.
SAN DIEGO -- With the outside perception of the San Diego Chargers taking a major tumble, the team, which for so long was built from the inside, changed philosophy in 2012 in a last attempt to keep that proverbial Super Bowl window from slamming shut and causing major upheaval in the organization.

After two playoff-less seasons and a reprieve from ownership, San Diego general manager A.J. Smith made an uncharacteristically heavy play in free agency. Taking advantage of one of the deepest classes in history, the Chargers nabbed more than a dozen free agents to infuse new life into a roster that was still talented but no longer arguably the stoutest in the NFL.

“I love what they have done around here,” said safety Eric Weddle, one of the Chargers' homegrown mainstays. “We hit the lowest of the lows the past two years by not making the playoffs. Getting new blood in here has helped.”

Among the veterans San Diego brought in were running backs Le'Ron McClain and Ronnie Brown, receivers Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal, linebacker Jarret Johnson and defensive tackle Aubrayo Franklin.

“The thing about the new guys is they all love football,” San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers said. “They love it. We need guys like that here. … It gives us a new start. Those guys won’t worry about the past. They weren’t here for the slow starts or the six-game losing streak last year. It’s all a new start.”

If this cleansing of the roster doesn’t work, the next restructuring will likely occur up top with the firing of coach Norv Turner and possibly Smith. Yet, in a season of new beginnings, spirits are high.

“I think we can be special,” Weddle said. “There’s still a lot of talent here, with a bunch of new talent. … People may not be expecting much from us this year because we haven’t done anything, so that’s fair. But it’s kind of nice to be under the radar for once.”


[+] EnlargeRyan Mathews
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireThe Chargers aim to lean even more heavily on running back Ryan Mathews this season.
1. Ryan Mathews' workload: Outside of Rivers, there is likely not a more important player in this camp than Mathews. The Chargers all know if Mathews flourishes in his third NFL season, the team will have a strong chance to be successful. Mathews, the No. 12 overall pick in 2010, had a solid second season as he ran for 1,091 yards and averaged a terrific 4.9 yards per carry. This year, the Chargers want to see Mathews become consistent and stay healthy. He will likely be given the chance to to carry the ball 25 times a game, catch several balls out of the backfield and be a factor on third down and in short yardage. This camp is designed to get him prepared for a heavy workload. From what I saw and heard, it seems like Mathews might be up to the task.

“He’s working hard,” Rivers said. “Ryan knows what is expected of him.”

2. Sparking the defense: While the offense in San Diego needs some tweaks, the bigger fixes are necessary on defense, where former linebackers coach John Pagano is in charge of fixing a unit that fell apart last season. He replaces Greg Manusky, who was fired after one season on the job. The biggest issue -- it is a major point of emphasis in camp -- is getting off the field on third down. San Diego was last in the NFL in third-down defense in 2011. It gave up a first down on 49.2 percent of all third downs -- according to ESPN Stats & Information, the worst percentage in the NFL since the 1995 Cleveland Browns. The Chargers have added several pieces to the defense and it has a chance to be much more active -- particularly on passing downs, when No. 1 pick Melvin Ingram will be given a chance to make an instant impact as a pass-rusher.

3. Protect the quarterback: The San Diego offensive line was in shambles for much of last season, and it was a big reason why Rivers struggled for the first 10 games. Mainly due to poor health, San Diego used 13 offensive linemen last season -- literally taking players off the street at one point in November. With Jared Gaither, claimed off waivers from Kansas City, solidifying the left tackle spot, the unit improved dramatically late in the season. Gaither was re-signed and is being counted on to protect Rivers’ blind side. The steady Tyronne Green takes over for the departed Kris Dielman. Green has fared well when he's had to play. If this unit remains in good health, it should protect Rivers well. If not, trouble could persist. So far, the unit looks good in camp.


The passing game looks to be top-notch. After a sloppy start to last season, Rivers finished 2011 strong. He has looked good in camp, and has an interesting group of receivers. Yes, standout Vincent Jackson is gone, but the Chargers have an ensemble group that includes Malcom Floyd, free-agent signees Meachem (New Orleans) and Royal (Denver) and second-year player Vincent Brown. Together, this group should offer Rivers plenty of help.

“We like what we have there,” Turner said. “We like all the pieces. We think we can get some things done in the passing game.”

If the Rivers-led passing attack is back at an elite level, the Chargers will be a threat to win every game. When Rivers is on, San Diego has a chance to score every time the offense hits the field.


The Chargers must prove they are totally past their doldrums. The team feels good about itself, but it does every summer. We will not know if San Diego is out of its funk until it’s out.

Yes, the depth looks good, but will it be enough if injuries pile up for a fourth consecutive year? Yes, cutting down on turnovers is a point of emphasis in camp, but once the season starts, will the hard work pay off or will the killer interceptions and fumbles continue?

It has gotten to the point where we can’t trust this team until it shows it is has indeed rebounded.


    [+] EnlargeEddie Royal
    AP Photo/Lenny IgnelziReceiver Eddie Royal, an offseason pickup, appears to have clicked with Chargers QB Philip Rivers.
  • Tight end Antonio Gates is turning heads on a daily basis. After dealing with foot-related injuries for four years, Gates is finally completely healthy. He’s slimmed down and he is making a lot of plays. If his health remains, the 32-year-old should make a huge impact.
  • Denver might have lost interest in Royal, but there is a place for him San Diego. Expect Royal to get a lot of work. He has impressed the coaching staff this summer and I expect him to be as favorite a target for Rivers during the season as he has been this summer.
  • The Chargers love what they see in Johnson. He is tough, smart and excellent against the run. They think he can bump the defense up a notch.
  • Linebacker Donald Butler looks good after a strong 2011 season, which was essentially his rookie season because he was injured in 2010. He is just another fascinating young defensive piece on this team.
  • Undrafted rookie quarterback Jarrett Lee looks like a keeper. He got extra work because of a knee injury to Charlie Whitehurst. I could see Lee making this roster. The Chargers were burned last year when they tried to sneak undrafted rookie quarterback Scott Tolzien onto the practice squad; he was claimed by San Francisco. If Lee continues to impress, I think the Chargers will find room for him on the 53-man roster. They need to develop a young quarterback at some point and Lee might be it.

  • The Nate Kaeding-Nick Novak battle at kicker will go down to the wire. If Kaeding stays healthy and kicks well in the preseason, he should win the job.
  • The Chargers love the skill level of Meachem. Perhaps he was lost in the shuffle of the dynamic offensive weaponry in New Orleans. He’ll get his shot in San Diego.
  • The Chargers are pumped about McClain, a free-agent pickup from Kansas City. He will play a lot and should be in the mix for some carries. They like the veteran stability he brings to the offense.
  • Center David Molk, a seventh-round pick, is getting some second-team reps. He may have a future.
  • The Chargers are very happy with pre-camp signings Franklin and running back/special-teamer Jackie Battle. Though they both signed late, I see them both being contributors.
  • Keep an eye on ex-Chief Demorrio Williams. The linebacker has been a camp stud, boasting terrific speed. The Chargers like him in coverage.
  • The Chargers will keep their eyes open for help at certain positions, including cornerback and offensive line, as the summer progresses.
  • Third-round pick Brandon Taylor, a safety, might not make an instant impact, but Taylor has impressed and will get some valuable time behind veteran pickup Atari Bigby, who himself has been outstanding this summer.

  • Brown has been getting looks as the third-down back and will be an occasional Wildcat threat.
  • Running back Curtis Brinkley flashed talent at times last season, but because of the logjam at running back, he is a long shot to make the team.

  • Rookie tight end Ladarius Green has nice receiving skills. I can see him making an impact behind Gates and Dante Rosario (a very nice backup). Green, a fourth-round pick, needs to learn to block at an NFL level, but he has terrific hands and natural size.
  • Undrafted rookie tackle Mike Harris has taken advantage of an early camp injury to Gaither, getting some reps with the first team. The UCLA product has a chance to make the team. Rivers has joked that Harris has gotten more first-team reps than any undrafted rookie tackle in the history of the NFL.
SAN DIEGO -- Nate Kaeding has been waiting for this preseason for 11 months.

When you blow out your ACL on the opening kickoff of the season, you have to look forward to something. After a physically and mentally grueling rehabilitation period, Kaeding is finally back to being able to be an NFL kicker again.

“There has been a lot of emotional times in the past 11 months” Kaeding said. “But I’ve gotten through it and I’m ready to go show everyone that I am back.”

After sitting out all but one play last season, the long-time San Diego kicker is now battling his 2011 replacement, Nick Novak, in one of the more interesting camp battles in San Diego. While Novak did a nice job in Kaeding’s absence, I think Kaeding probably has the edge to win the job if he can show his health in the next month.

Kaeding said he is not overworking his leg, but he has shown himself he can do everything and that he has kicked field goals up to the 55-60 range. However, his kicking length is not the important part of Kaeding’s rehabilitation.

“It’s getting into that regular rhythm,” Kaeding said. “That’s what I’m working on and I feel good about it”