Chargers kicker Josh Lambo wants a job in the NFL, and he’s proving it in the preseason.
Lambo nailed a 53-yard field goal in the third quarter and then a 47-yard attempt as time expired in Arizona, securing a (meaningless) 22-19 win over the Cardinals on Saturday night … and perhaps more importantly, securing his legitimacy in the kicker competition.
The Michigan native took over full-time kicking duties in the team’s second preseason game after veteran Nick Novak appeared to tweak his ankle in the third quarter. Lambo finished with three touchbacks and three successful field goals, including the final one as the clock ran down (saving fans from having to watch two teams go to overtime in preseason football. For that, we thank you, Josh Lambo.)
Touchbacks have been a priority of Lambo’s for the last year.
“I can’t really complain about kicking a ball to the end zone,” he said after the first preseason game against the Cowboys. “That’s what they wanted me to do. This whole year it’s been a big emphasis of mine, because I didn’t kick off in college. So I knew coming in here, that was something I would have to do. I’ve been working on it a lot over the past eight months. I like the progress where I’m at. I think I can get the ball even higher and further and that’s what I’m going to work at doing.”
Lambo wasn’t even supposed to be in the NFL. He was supposed to be playing football, yes — just not the American kind.
Soccer was his first love, so much so that FC Dallas drafted him out of high school in the first round (eighth overall) of the 2008 Major League Soccer SuperDraft.
Lambo broke his jaw early in his inaugural season, and the head coach who drafted him was fired shortly after. His career sputtered and never recovered. When FC Dallas didn’t renew his contract in 2011, he decided to change course.
“Seventeen years of my life was dedicated to soccer,” Lambo said after a recent training camp practice. “But, you have to make a big-boy decision every now and then. That was it for me, so I decided to go back to college.”
Although Lambo already had a two-year degree he had received from taking online courses, he wanted a four-year diploma. He figured if he was going to go to college, he might as well see if he could use his leg in the process.
His brother had a friend — former New Orleans Saints kicker Taylor Mehlhaff – who offered to teach him how to kick. He sent out some tape and soon after, Texas A&M came calling. Lambo left the university as the most accurate kicker in school history, making 21 of 25 attempts (83.3 percent), including a long of 50 yards in 2014.
Now in training camp as an undrafted free agent, Lambo is competing with Novak for the starting job.
“It’s been great,” Lambo said. “This is a great group of guys. Really great locker room. Excellent atmosphere. A couple guys have really taken me under their wing, like Danny Woodhead – he was one of the first guys I talked to when I walked in the locker room. [Mike] Windt and [Mike] Scifres have just been phenomenal as far as just leading me and guiding me, and pushing me when I need to be pushed a little bit.”
Seems the former-goalkeeper-turned-kicker is now doing some pushing of his own.
NEWS AND NOTES
**The Chargers defense had an impressive first half, finishing with six sacks. Five were from linebackers — including two from Melvin Ingram — and nose tackle Darius Philon was credited with the sixth.
**Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers did not play in Saturday’s game, seemingly to protect him from any unnecessary injuries.