Drum Beats: Edwards Can't Give Up On Medlock

Kansas City's rookie kicker, Justin Medlock, has been struggling. There's no question about it. The UCLA alum made only three of six field goal attempts this preseason, and against the Miami Dolphins, his two misses made the difference in the game. The Chiefs lost by a point, and had Medlock been merely average, the Chiefs likely would have won.

That's the sort of thing that drives head coaches crazy, particularly a coach like Herm Edwards, who depends on his kicker to be a difference maker.

The Chiefs brought in a kicker or six on Monday to get a good look at the other options out there, but for now, Medlock is the guy, despite his struggles. That's the way it should be.

"The punt, pass and kick contest was yesterday," said Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards. "There were a bunch of them out there, but right now Medlock is going to Houston and we anticipate he's going to kick well for us."

Despite the preseason struggles, Edwards supports his young kicker. Throughout the preseason, he iterated over and over that Medlock was his guy. The Chiefs used a fifth-round pick on Medlock, high for a specialist, and that was a huge testament to their feelings about his talent. Abandoning Medlock this early in his career would do heavy damage to his psyche. Not the sort of thing you want to do a position that's about 90 percent mental.

"The conversation I had with him was ‘he's our kicker, we have a lot of confidence in you, that's why we drafted you," said Edwards. "You've been good kicker. You've missed some kicks you probably should have made. But none of them count. The only ones that are going to count now are when we go to Houston. They need to count. He understands that. He had a good day on Monday going eight-for-eight on all his kicks. Now we need to get him on the field and get him in field goal range."

Kicking is like golf. Part of the game is about grooving your fundamentals and making sure your mechanics are consistently sound. The other part is dealing with pressure, being able to perform when all eyes are on you. Medlock's got plenty of talent and a great swing, but he just went from the security of his home municipal course to Pebble Beach. While the swing is basically the same, the pressure from the change in venue is huge.

The Chiefs can help Medlock by putting him in the best possible position to be successful. You may see the team work to make sure they get their kicker attempts from shorter distances, to build his confidence and get a taste of success.

"I've got to help him, too," said Edwards. "I can't line him up on the first field goal out of the box and ask him to kick a 53-yarder. You can help you kicker at times and put him in range where he's comfortable and can make it."

Edwards compared KC's current situation to that of the New England Patriots a year ago. After drafting Stephen Gostkowski, they had to bring the rookie along slowly, building up his confidence kick by kick.

"It's no different than what New England did with their guy last year," said Edwards. "He was struggling for a while and coach [Bill] Belichick got him inside the 25-yard line and wouldn't let him kick anything over 47 yards I think. He was struggling early and he just kept him within that range and he got confident. At the end of the year he started kicking well. There are a lot of things you can do to help the kicker, too." "We drafted him. We have a lot of confidence in him. He's a very talented player. But he's a rookie. Rookies sometimes struggle whether he be the kicker, the runner, the receiver, it doesn't matter. You have to live with that."

It looks like for now, Edwards is willing to live with any struggles that Medlock goes through. The team had plenty of confidence in him in April, and from the looks of it, they have plenty of confidence in him now. The team has a lot invested in Medlock already, and they seem prepared to follow through and make sure they get a return on that investment.

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