Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer 80d

Chargers confident in 'tough man' Younghoe Koo despite 1-for-4 start



COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Chargers kicker Younghoe Koo can look to some inauspicious starts by former Pro Bowl kickers as inspiration.

"It's a new week; that's my mentality," Koo said. "I just go back to one thing, and that's making the kicks."

According to Elias Sports Bureau, in the past 20 years kickers such as Randy Bullock, Matt Prater, Michael Koenen, Neil Rackers and David Akers have gone on to have productive NFL careers after starting off 1-for-4 on field-goal attempts.

Prater is in his 11th NFL season and on his third NFL team, with the Detroit Lions this season. He's a two-time Pro Bowl kicker who holds the NFL record with a 64-yard field goal. Akers is a six-time Pro Bowl selection who played 16 years in the NFL.

Koo pushed a 44-yard field goal attempt wide right that would have defeated the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, one of two missed kicks by the former Georgia Southern kicker.

Koo also had a 44-yard attempt blocked that would have tied the game in the Chargers' season-opening loss to the Denver Broncos.

He is 1-for-4 on the season, with his only make a 41-yard field goal in the second quarter last Sunday against Miami.

Chargers special-teams coach George Stewart points to his mentor Chuck Noll, whom he worked with as a special-teams coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1989 to 1991, as a study in patience.

The Steelers wanted to draft kicker Gary Anderson out of Syracuse in 1982. But the Buffalo Bills, picking a spot ahead of the Steelers, selected Anderson in the seventh round.

Anderson missed all five of his field-goal attempts during the preseason and the Bills released him. Noll pounced on Anderson, signing him a few days later. And although he missed his first kick for the Steelers, the South African native went on to play 23 years, making four Pro Bowls and a becoming a member of the NFL's All-Decade team in the 1980s and 1990s.

Sometimes in the NFL, it pays to let things play out. For now, that will be the Chargers' directive moving forward with Koo.

"He's doing fine," Stewart said. "He's strong mentally. He's a tough man. In terms of coaching him, we're working on fundamentals and techniques. But his mental game is outstanding.

"The young man came over here in the seventh grade and didn't speak a word of English. And he was able to survive in that type of situation. So he has great mental toughness."

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