Rookie kicker Medlock struggles to connect


The Kansas City Star

It’s two games into his pro career, but Justin Medlock already knows the highs and lows of life as an NFL kicker.

Last week, it was the almost game-winner in Cleveland. His 42-yard field goal put the Chiefs ahead in the final moments, but the lead disappeared when the Browns returned the kickoff for a touchdown.

On Thursday night against Miami at Arrowhead Stadium, Medlock missed his first two attempts from 42 and 37 yards. He later made a 34-yard try, but converting either one of the first two would have allowed the Chiefs to emerge with a win.

They lost instead 11-10.

Medlock cleared out of the Chiefs’ locker room quickly, before explaining what happened. That left his holder, punter Dustin Colquitt, to do the job.

“He may have been going a little fast getting to the ball,” Colquitt said. “That’s the only thing we can figure out right now.”

Coach Herm Edwards said the Chiefs wouldn’t hurry to bring in any competition for Medlock, a fifth-round draft choice.

“I walked up to him after the second one,” Edwards said, “and I said, ‘Hey, let me tell you something. We drafted you because you’re a good kicker. You’ll get another chance to kick before the night is over and you’ll make the next one.’

“And he made it. At that point, we were winning the game.”

Medlock’s 34-yarder gave the Chiefs a 10-3 lead in the fourth quarter. Behind only one score instead of two because of his earlier failures, the Dolphins then rallied for the winning points on a touchdown and two-point conversion.

“Some guys go into the tank after missing kicks like that,” Colquitt said. “He came back out, and he hit that ball really good. He’ll be fine. He’s too good of a kicker to worry himself. It’s just one of those things. It was his first time at Arrowhead. I remember my first time I kicked here. I was intimidated. The next game, he’ll be fine.”

After the Cleveland game, Medlock finished training camp with a flourish. He made all nine attempts in practice, including a 55-yarder.

Other than one lousy practice early in camp, Medlock had been consistent.

“He’s really mentally strong,” Colquitt said. “He hit what would have been the game-winner against Cleveland, and they just happened to run the kick back. He had that one (bad) day in training camp, but he’s been incredible. I’ve never seen anybody come in and be like that.

“Herm wanted to kind of nip it in the bud right then. The rest of camp, he’s been almost perfect.”