Saturday, November 27, 2021

Staley hopes the changes will benefit the Charger Special Teams

COSTA MESA, Calif. (NWN) – The Los Angeles Chargers have made improvements in many areas during Brandon Staley’s first season as coach, but Special Teams remain one of the major concerns.

Staley hopes a new comeback and kicker will help make a difference.

The chargers signed a contract with return specialist Andre Roberts during their farewell last week. On Tuesday, kicker Dustin Hopkins was invited to audition. Both will debut Sunday when Los Angeles hosts New England.

Los Angeles is the last in the league in average starting position after kickoffs (its 21-yard line) and has 10 starts in the league out of 20 after kickoffs.

Roberts should help fix this. The 11-year veteran who started the season in Houston has played in the Pro Bowl for the last three seasons as an AFC comeback specialist and was selected to the 2018 All-Pro. He has led the league overall for the past four seasons. yards over 1,300 yards and returned one punt and one kick-off for a touchdown.

“This is my first time joining a team in the middle of the season, but I’ve been on a lot of new teams from year to year,” Roberts said. “It’s just getting to know the guys, letting them get to know you a little; about your family, about where you are from, about how you play the game. “

The move to Roberts should also stabilize recoil when the Chargers used the committee’s approach. KJ Hill, who was freed to make way for Roberts, was returning the boat.

Staley said having a returning player who can handle both opening and side impacts was a huge factor for Roberts’ signing.

“This is a very big asset, if you have one. I think he can improve both phases of the return and we need that, ”Staley said.

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The move to Hopkins, which Washington dropped after six games this season, came as a big surprise with Staley Tristan Wiscaino’s steadfast support. But with the Chargers 4-2 in the wide-open AFC playoffs, the decision to go with the veteran kicker took on more importance after Vizcaino missed five extra points in six games.

Hopkins also has a better leg than Wiscayno in the opening kicks. The receiving teams hit back 22 of Hopkins’ 31 kicks, compared to 13 of Wiscaino’s 31 kicks.

“We felt that with his experience as an NFL starting kicker for six seasons and playing in the playoffs, that would be an advantage for us,” Staley said.

Aside from tweak and kicker changes, Staley and Special Teams Coach Darius Swinton have other issues with coverage and rebound teams. Three attempts by Vizcaino were almost blocked by a free dash from the right edge. Staley said the team is looking for both staff and tech to fix the problem.

Special teams played a huge role in beating the Chargers 45-0 New England last season. Gunner Olszewski returned the ball to the touchdown and Cody Davis blocked a long field goal attempt, allowing Devin McCurty to pick up the lost ball and go 44 yards to score in the last game of the first half.

Olszewski comes in third in the league this week with an average of 11.1 yards in punt returns.

NOTES: S Nasir Adderley (thigh) and WR Mike Williams (knee) were full participants in Wednesday’s workout with LB Drue Tranquill limited (chest). DL Justin Jones, who has missed the last five games with a calf injury, has also trained and may be retiring from the injured reserve this week.

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