Concern about explosive New England return man Cordarrelle Patterson led the Chargers to sign Nick Rose to handle kickoff duties in Sunday’s divisional-round playoff game.
Rose, who played eight games last season for the Washington Redskins and two for the Chargers, was added to the roster Friday morning. Michael Badgley will continue to handle field goals and extra points.
“Anything that can make the team better, any advantage you can get, I’m for it,” Badgley said. “We’ve had great coverage all year, but their returner is pretty dangerous, so I guess it’s one of those things the coaches thought would give us a slight edge.”
Rose was the fourth and final kicker — following Younghoe Koo, Travis Coons and Nick Novak — employed by the Chargers during a 2017 season in which kicking woes probably cost them a playoff berth.
Rose had plenty of leg, knocking eight of nine kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks in the final two games, but accuracy was an issue.
He made one of three field-goal attempts, missing wide right on a 47-yard attempt by a good 15 yards against the New York Jets and knocking a 50-yard attempt into the facemask of Oakland Raiders tackle Justin Ellis. He made five of six extra points.
Badgley, signed in October, has made 15 of 16 field goal attempts, including a franchise-record 59-yarder against Cincinnati in Week 14, and 27 of 28 extra-points, but only nine of his 54 kickoffs were downed in the end zone for touchbacks. No NFL team allowed more returns during the regular season.
The Chargers did hold opponents to 21.7 yards per kickoff return in the regular season, the eighth-best rate in the league, and they did an outstanding job covering kicks in Sunday’s wild-card win at Baltimore.
None of Badgley’s six kickoffs reached the end zone — one went to the 12-yard line — but Ravens return man Ty Montgomery averaged only 17.7 yards per return. Only twice did the Ravens take a kick to the 25-yard line or beyond.
But Patterson is a different animal, averaging 28.8 yards per kickoff return this season, including a 95-yarder for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in Week 7. He returned four kickoffs for 179 yards in that game.
The Chargers would rather Rose kick into the end zone and the Patriots start each drive at the 25-yard line than risk a big return by Patterson.
“They have one of the best kick returners that I’ve seen in a long time, so that’s going to be a heck of a challenge for our special teams,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said earlier this week. “It’s a good thing we have one of the better cover units in the league right now, but that’s going to be a heck of a challenge.”
Rose, who was in training camp with the San Antonio Commanders of the new Alliance of American Football, said his agent called him earlier this week to notify him of the Chargers’ interest. Rose spent much of the fall kicking three or four times a week near his home in Austin, Tex.