Texans Kicking Woes: Novak, Lechler and Fairbairn?

Texans Nick Novak and Shane Lechler
Houston Texans kicker and punter Nick Novak and Shane Lechler

The Houston Texans have two talented players in Shane Lechler and Nick Novak as their kicker and punter. However, their old age may force Houston to begin the process of moving on. This has already been addressed for the kicker position. Ka’Imi Fairbairn signed as an undrafted free agent after the 2016 NFL Draft. He has been brought in to challenge Novak, however he spent the 2016 season on injured reserve. The sooner the Texans challenge Novak, the better.

Novak converted 85.4 percent of his field goals last season. He has not been able to break the 90 percent barrier in three seasons. Novak also converted a career low in extra points with an 88 percent conversion rate. This could be due to the distance for extra points being pushed back, but it is a disturbing trend nonetheless.

The Texans needed some competition at the kicker position and they got it. Signing Fairbairn after the 2016 draft shows they are not 100 percent committed to Novak. Fairbairn converted 83.3 percent in his senior season at UCLA. While not the greatest conversion percentage, the college football field arrangement must be taken into consideration. Field goals are attempted from wider angles creating less desirable attempts for kickers as they get closer. It is more than likely that a good portion of his attempts in the NFL would be moved farther inwards compared to his college attempts.

Texans kicker Ka'Imi Fairbairn
Texans kicker Ka’Imi Fairbairn (photo credit Tim Bradbury/ Daily Bruin)

Whether the Texans choose Novak and Fairbairn as their kicker for the upcoming season, they will be in relatively good hands. There are a lot worse kickers in the NFL currently, and they should be so lucky to have one who still makes a good percentage of his attempts.

Lechler is widely considered one of the best punters in the NFL. He has been highly thought of among punters since he came into the league. With a career 47.5 yards per punt average, he is still impressive after turning 40 years old last season. How long he continues to play in the league is yet to be seen. As long as he is willing, the Texans have one of the best punters in the NFL on their roster.

While the Texans should be set for this season, long term solutions at punter and kicker are on their minds. A kicking competition is never fun, one of these guys will be the Texans kicker this season. The other, a free agent. They will have a relatively solid kicker this season. A replacement for Lechler will be coming sooner rather than later. He will only be able to punt for so long. Lechler’s replacement has to be found before this season, or before next season.

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