Korean kicker Younghoe Koo gets cut by Chargers after just four games
The Chargers are bringing in a familiar face to replace Younghoe Koo
In a decision that came at an odd time, the Chargers released Koo on Thursday and replaced him with veteran Nick Novak. The reason Koo's release came at an odd time is because most teams will cut a player earlier in the week so they can hold a Tuesday tryout.
Even Novak was surprised at the timing of the Chargers' decision.
"It was kind of a shock to get the call," Novak said Thursday, via the Chargers' official website. "Wasn't expecting that on a Wednesday. But (I'm) excited. I'm just focused on being a good teammate and doing my job."
The 0-4 Chargers could potentially be 2-2 right now if not for some big misses from Koo. The Korean-born kicker went 3 of 6 on field goals to start the season, and two of those misses came in clutch situations. In a 24-21 loss to the Broncos in Week 1, Koo had a 44-yard field goal blocked with just one second to play.
In a 19-17 Week 2 loss to the Dolphins, Koo missed a 44-yard game-winning attempt with just five seconds left to play. Despite those misses, the Chargers stuck with him for another two weeks before dropping the hammer on Thursday.
In a sign that he was possibly eyeing the job as early as mid-September, Novak actually tweeted out a video of him practicing just minutes after Koo missed the kick against the Dolphins.
Even though Koo made all four of his kicks in Week 4 (three extra points, one field goal), Chargers coach Anthony Lynn felt that now was still the right time to make the move.
"Two weeks ago, Koo was kicking the ball fine," Lynn said. "He had the one bad outing in Miami. Players have a bad day, or a bad game every once in a while. But watching him over the last couple weeks, pregame, in practice, I've seen enough. It was time to bring in someone with a little more consistency, and someone with more experience."
This is the 10th NFL season for the 36-year-old Novak, who spent four years kicking with the Chargers while they were still in San Diego (2011-14).
"I take a lot of pride in wearing the lightning bolt, and the name on the back of the jersey," Novak said. "Like I said, I just want to be a good teammate. It's great to play. It's not so fun being out there watching."
Novak is living in San Diego, so he was ready to go as soon as the Chargers called.
"Right now, we feel like Nick was the best choice," Lynn said. "Nick's been a very accurate kicker in this league for a long time, and he's been here before. We're familiar with him, and his experience in big games (was important). As you know, every game we've played so far has been a close game, and every play, every point matters."
Novak will make his 2017 debut on Sunday when the Chargers travel across the country to face the Giants in New York.
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