Bolts Meet With Versatile Kicker at Combine

The Bolts headed to the NFL Combine last month prepared to bolster competition at key positions. In a journey to mend gaps, the Chargers held a meeting with one of the four kickers invited to Indianapolis. Ranked at the top of his position, the Bolts see that his strength and accuracy would ease any current strain on the special teams units.

Shane Longest of Saint Xavier University was tapped by the Bolts' coaching staff for a private chit-chat at the NFL Combine. Longest was the first Cougar in the school's history to be invited to the event.

At 5'10" and 176 pounds, his slight frame can surprisingly drill field goals from beyond 50 yards, which is the production the Bolts want to see. The versatile kicker also boasts a 43.2 punt-yard average.

Named an NAIA first-team All-American, Longest set a number of school records. He marked the most field goals in a game (five) and the most extra point in a game (seven). He also set a record for points in a season (128). His career-long field goal of 55 yards also landed first in the school records.

A four-year starter at Xavier, Longest handled field goals, punts and kickoffs. The only NAIA prospect invited to the Combine, the small-school prospect struggles with his accuracy on long attempts. However, the Bolts see him as a developmental type at the next level.

While current Pro Bowl kicker Nate Kaeding ranked second in NFL kick scoring last season, injuries have been by his side for the past two seasons. Kaeding suffered a back injury in 2006 and he broke his left, non-kicking leg in 2007. Both mishaps left the Bolts in a muddle scrambling for reinforcements.

At the end of the 2007 season, the Bolts hoisted Dave Rayner onto the roster to serve as a kickoff specialist. One season earlier, the Chargers drafted kicker Kurt Smith to lighten Kaeding's load in training camp and to compete for kickoff responsibilities. Smith was cut at the end of camp.

The Bolts look to bolster the depth under Kaeding in case chaos strikes again. Kaeding's health would benefit from a lighter load and even relinquishing kickoff duties.

A.J. Smith noted the team wouldn't address kickers or punters in the upcoming draft, but the private meeting with Longest might indicate otherwise. There's no denying the Bolts could benefit greatly by brining the aptly-named Longest on board.

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