Kaeding Comes Clean

Nate Kaeding can now come clean. He was kicking in nearly the last five games with a broken plant (left) leg. It was obvious Kaeding was hurt on Dec. 24 when making a tackle in the win over the Broncos. It was obvious something wasn't right and the Chargers went with Dave Rayner on kickoffs until their final game in New England.

Nate Kaeding now admits he had a fractured fibula in his left leg.

"We tried to keep it on the hush hush because I didn't want more attention on me than that there would have been in a playoff situation," said Kaeding, who was successful on all four of his field-goal attempts in the playoff loss to New England. "If an opposing team knows that you've got a kicker with a broken leg, obviously it doesn't allow you to do many fakes and those sort of things."

Some were disappointed the Chargers weren't more truthful in listing Kaeding - as well as other Chargers. But Kaeding said the team wasn't doing anything other squads do to hide injuries.

"We try to keep that as limited as you can and as an NFL team you're only required to release what part of your body is injured, not the extent of it," Kaeding said. "We did everything by the book and just kind of play with it from there."

What was obvious is the Chargers weren't going to play without their steady kicker. Kaeding is a pretty tough guy - he was named captain of his Iowa team years ago - so he wasn't going to let a bum leg force him to miss the playoff run.

"I couldn't picture myself sitting off to the sideline when the team made it to the Super Bowl watching somebody else do it," he said. "I did everything I could and they would have had to cart me off the field in order for me not to do it. It wasn't the best situation but you've got to get it done. Nothing more can happen to it bad so you just kind of keep playing."

But it's hardly the manner in which a kicker wants to prepare for the most important kicks of his career.

"It was tough," said Kaeding, who was 29-of-34 last season. "I couldn't walk. I was on crutches for the first 14 days, and I didn't practice until the week of New England, which was tough coming out cold turkey in those playoff situations not having practiced at all. Those were just the cards that I was dealt and just got to do the best with it when you can."

What was left was a game of what-if. Three times the Chargers were inside the Patriots' red zone and had to settle for three Kaeding field goals.

"We went out and gave them our best shot," Kaeding said. "If we could have put a couple of touchdowns together we would have beat them, too."


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