September 30th, 2022 at 2:49pm CST by Sam Robinson
The Bears may need a kicker for their Week 4 game, and they are turning to the workout circuit to find a fill-in option. The team excused Cairo Santos from practice Thursday for personal reasons, per the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs, and the veteran specialist was not there Friday.
With no kicker currently on the Bears’ 16-man practice squad, outside help appears necessary. Michael Badgley, Josh Lambo and Brian Johnson took part in a Friday workout, Biggs adds (via Twitter). Santos, 31, has been the Bears’ kicker since 2020. Via the three-year extension he signed in 2021, Santos is signed through the 2024 season.
Badgley, Lambo and Johnson kicked in the NFL last season. None entered this season with a gig. Both Lambo and Badgley began their careers with the Chargers; Badgley played as a Colts replacement option last season, while Lambo was with the Jaguars from 2017-21. The team moved in a different direction this year, ditching both Lambo and top 2021 option Matthew Wright.
Lambo, 31, only kicked in seven Jaguars games from 2020-21 but was the team’s full-timer for most of Doug Marrone‘s HC tenure. He led the NFL with a 97% make rate during his most recent full season (2019), going 33-for-34, but missed each of his three field goal tries last season. Lambo’s Jacksonville stay represents his longest as a pro; it will likely be most remembered for his Urban Meyer conflict. Lambo has sued the Jags, alleging Meyer kicked him while he was warming up for a preseason game. Jacksonville released Lambo in October 2021.
Signed to replace an injured Rodrigo Blankenship midway through last season, Badgley made 86% of his tries (18 of 21) in Indianapolis. One of the Saints’ four options in their Wil Lutz-less season, Johnson also kicked for Washington in 2021. Johnson has yet to miss a field goal as a pro, going 10-for-10 as a rookie. This has been a two-workout week for Badgley, who auditioned for the Chiefs with ex-Jags teammate Wright. The latter landed the job — a spot on Kansas City’s P-squad.
September 13th, 2022 at 2:40pm CST by Sam Robinson
Back after missing most of last season, Rodrigo Blankenship missed a crucial field goal that would have avoided the Colts’ first tie in 40 years. The team is now moving on from the third-year kicker.
Indianapolis is waiving Blankenship Tuesday, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The team may be set to hold a pre-Week 2 practice competition. Chase McLaughlin and Lucas Havrisik are signing to the Colts’ practice squad, Pelissero adds (via Twitter). Former Jaguars Matthew Wright and Josh Lambo also worked out for the team Tuesday, per the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson (Twitterlinks).
This will mark an Indiana return to Indianapolis for McLaughlin, whom the team used during part of the 2019 season. An an Adam Vinatieri injury brought in McLaughlin, who had already kicked in games for the Chargers and 49ers that year. McLaughlin finished the season with the Colts, who replaced him with Blankenship in 2020. McLaughlin went 5-for-6 on field goals with Indy in 2019. He was 15-for-21 in 16 Browns games last season. A UDFA rookie out of Arizona, Havrisik was the Wildcats’ kicker for most of the past five seasons. His two 57-yard makes in college double as the Pac-12 program’s record. Havrisik also participated in the Colts’ rookie minicamp this year.
In addition to his 42-yard overtime miss, Blankenship sent two kickoffs — his final regulation kick and the overtime opener — out of bounds. The Texans scored on neither of the ensuing drives, but some with the Colts were more frustrated with those sequences than the OT field goal miss, The Athletic’s Zak Keefer tweets.
Blankenship has not been the Colts’ primary kickoff man for most of his career. Longtime punter Rigoberto Sanchez handled those duties when available. The latter going down during a training camp practice led to the Colts signing Matt Haack but using their kicker as their kickoff man in Week 1.
Last season, the Colts placed Blankenship on IR — after his injury in Baltimore contributed to a Monday-night collapse — and used Michael Badgley as their kicker in the final 12 games. The team did not bring Badgley to training camp, however, with Keefer adding it viewed rookie UDFA Jake Verityas the higher-upside choice (Twitter link). The Colts waived Verity as they moved their roster to 53.
A former four-year Georgia Bulldogs kicker, Blankenship signed with the Colts as a 2020 UDFA. Blankenship made 87% of his field goals as a rookie, though he was 1-for-3 from beyond 50 yards. This will be the third time in four seasons the Colts will have needed to make an in-season kicker switch. Vinatieri’s early-season struggles in 2019 led to a late-season surgery, beginning the stretch of uncertainty. Prior to that, the most notable in-season kicker change the Colts had made occurred back in 2009, when a Vinatieri injury prompted the eventual AFC champions to sign Matt Stover. Excepting the Stover year, the Colts used two kickers from 1998-2010 — Mike Vanderjagt and Vinatieri.
Two months ago, free agent kicker Josh Lambo filed a lawsuit against his former team in Jacksonville for acts allegedly performed by the former head coach of the Jaguars, Urban Meyer. Jacksonville filed a motion this week to dismiss the lawsuit, alleging that the club is not responsible for the actions of Meyer, according to Daniel Kaplan of The Atheltic.
In the 2021 preseason, Lambo missed a kick in each of Jacksonville’s first two games. Lambo alleged that, during a practice before the final preseason game, Meyer kicked him in the leg and said, “Hey dips—, make your f—ing kicks!” When Lambo told Meyer, “Don’t you ever f—ing kick me again!” Meyer replied by saying, “I’m the head ball coach. I’ll kick you whenever the f— I want.”
The Jaguars claim in their motion that, under the Florida Whistleblower Act, the team cannot be sued for retaliation since they didn’t instruct Meyer to kick Lambo. Their motion says, “Plaintiff’s case is predicated solely on the alleged criminal acts of Urban Meyer, not any policy, practice or activity of club.”
Lambo’s initial suit further claims that he notified his agent, Richard Irvin, of the interaction and that Irvin made the team’s counsel aware of the matter the following day. The allegations became public in December, shortly before Meyers was terminated, and, at the time, the Jaguars released a statement saying that the team immediately responded to Irvin’s query saying, “Counsel offered to speak with Josh, or to assist Josh in speaking with coaching or any other football personnel, if he was comfortable with her sharing the information. Any suggestion otherwise is blatantly false.”
According to Jacksonville’s new motion, they allege that they received no response to their offer to provide Lambo with counsel. The motion reads, “Plaintiff does not allege he or his agent ever responded to the inquiry made by Club’s legal counsel offering to follow up with Plaintiff, with Mr. Meyer and/or with Club management.”
Lambo is seeking damages for emotional distress and reputational harm as well as his full $3.5MM salary from 2021. He claims “the environment created by Meyer and the franchise affected his performance,” which suffered until he was cut after missing three field goals and two extra points in the team’s first two games.
Meyer has refuted the accuracy of Lambo’s description of events and Jacksonville’s new motion claims that, regardless of the accuracy, they hold no fault for Meyer’s “alleged criminal acts.”
Free agent kicker Josh Lambo has filed a lawsuit against the Jaguars, as Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com writes. The suit alleges that former head coach Urban Meyer created a hostile work environment and that the organization did nothing to rectify the situation.
Lambo missed a kick in each of Jacksonville’s first two preseason games in 2021, and during a practice before the final preseason game, Lambo alleges that Meyer kicked him in the leg and said, “Hey dips—, make your f—ing kicks!” When Lambo told Meyer, “Don’t you ever f—ing kick me again!” Meyer replied by saying, “I’m the head ball coach. I’ll kick you whenever the f— I want.” The suit further avers that Lambo notified his agent, Richard Irvin, of the interaction and that Irvin made the team’s counsel aware of the matter the following day.
These allegations became public in December, and at the time, the Jaguars released a statement saying that the team immediately responded to Irvin’s query and that, “[c]ounsel offered to speak with Josh, or to assist Josh in speaking with coaching or any other football personnel, if he was comfortable with her sharing the information. Any suggestion otherwise is blatantly false.”
The day after the alleged incident, Lambo claims that Meyer approached him and said, “if you ever speak to me like that again, you’ll be out of here. You’re the first player I’ve ever let speak to me that way in my career, and if you do it again, you’re gone.”
Though Lambo remained on the roster and operated as the Jaguars’ kicker through the first several games of the 2021 season, he missed all three of his field goal attempts and two of his seven PATs. He was released in October before catching on with the Steelers’ taxi squad. Pittsburgh dropped him a week later.
In 2019, Lambo led the NFL with a 97.1% field goal conversion rate. Then, in 2020, he lost the bulk of the year to injury, but went 5-of-5 on his FG tries while making 8-of-10 extra point attempts. His suit alleges that Meyer’s physical and verbal abuse impacted his ability to maintain his previous levels of performance, and he is seeking backpay and other damages.
Prior to the 2019 campaign, Lambo signed a four-year extension that was scheduled to run through the 2022 season. He was set to earn $4MM in 2022, but as a vested veteran, he did collect the full $3.5MM salary he was owed in 2021, and he took home $14K while on the Steelers’ p-squad.
Meyer, who was fired in December before completing one season as Jaguars’ HC, flatly denied Lambo’s allegations.
The interview covered many of the unflattering headlines that have colored the coach’s tenure in Duval, but started with an apology. Meyer apologized to the City of Jacksonville and painted the picture of a successful football future for the City, including a full stadium and a new facility promised by Jaguars’ owner Shad Khan.
Meyer talked a bit about something that he didn’t have a ton of experience with previously: losing. Meyer commented, “Losing eats away at your soul. Once you start losing, it’s hard on everybody.” This was perhaps most clear during what would be Meyer’s last post-game handshake of the 2021 NFL season, in which it seemed he couldn’t be bothered to even look at his former assistant, Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel, after a convincing 20-0 loss. Meyer commented on that moment, claiming that he and Vrabel are really close and saying, “that had nothing to do with [Vrabel]…I can’t take losing. I try to accept it, it just eats away at my soul.”
On many of the recent headlines that were thought to have contributed to his early exit, Meyer argued that they just weren’t true. Meyer said that a reported incident during which team captain Marvin Jones left the facility due to Meyer’s public and private criticism was not accurately portrayed. He also completely denied that he delivered a message to his assistant coaches that he is a winner and they are losers. Meyer also disputed that a preseason altercation occurred wherein he kicked former Jaguars’ kicker Josh Lambo while Lambo was stretching. Meyer was quoted saying, “It was like, ‘Wait a minute, where is this coming from?’ I’ve certainly made a few mistakes but those weren’t right.”
Meyer was asked about another highly criticized decision he made of benching James Robinson for an extended period of time against the Rams. The second-year running back is widely thought to be the best player on the struggling Jaguars. Meyer shrugged the decision off as a miscommunication. “We discussed it as a staff,” said Meyer. “When you see someone lose the ball or even see them be loose with the ball, get them out of the game, get their mind right, and then get them back in. When he fumbled, I said, ‘Take him out.’ We took him out and then we had lack of communication about when to put him back in.”
The other young star on Meyer’s former team is number one overall pick Trevor Lawrence. Meyer was complimentary of the 22 year old quarterback, commiserating with the tough situation he was put into. Meyer noted the franchise’s 15-game losing streak and injuries to key contributors on offense as obstacles Lawrence had to face. He ended the discussion on Lawrence saying, “There is zero doubt Trevor is going to be a great NFL quarterback.”
Questions were delivered on if there is an ongoing discussion with Jacksonville about the remaining money owed on his contract and on if Khan made the right move. Meyer declined to comment on both questions.
When asked what comes next for Meyer, he replied, “To be determined.” As of now, he has not heard from anyone in the football world about potential coaching opportunities. One can’t help but to think of where Meyer was a year ago, when he claimed he was living “the perfect life:” working at FOX with no plans to coach in the future.