A 36-year-old veteran, Novak has connected on 173 of 209 field-goal attempts (82.8%) with a long of 53 yards over a NFL career that began in 2005 and included four seasons (2011-14) with the Chargers.
Koo, who beat out incumbent Josh Lambo for the job in training camp, had a potential game-tying 44-yard field goal blocked in the final seconds of a 24-21 loss at Denver in the season opener and missed a potential game-winning 44-yarder in the final seconds of a 19-17 loss to Miami in Week 2.
In subsequent losses to Kansas City and Philadelphia, the Georgia Southern product made his only two field goal attempts, from 29 and 28 yards, and converted all four extra points. But the Chargers decided to make a switch Wednesday, and Novak joined the team for Thursday’s practice.
“Two weeks ago, Koo was kicking the ball fine,” coach Anthony Lynn said. “He had the one bad outing in Miami. Players have a bad day, a bad game. But watching him over the last couple weeks, pregame, practice, you know, I’ve seen enough. It was time to bring in someone with a little more consistency and experience.”
Novak has appeared in 111 career games for the Chargers, Redskins, Cardinals, Chiefs and Texans. He ranks as the second-most accurate kicker in Chargers history, making 101 of 117 kicks (86%). He ranks fourth in franchise history with 101 field goals and seventh in points (889).
His best season with the Chargers came in 2013, when he tied a franchise record with 34 field goals while setting a record for single-season field goal percentage (91.9%).
Novak spent the past two seasons with Houston, making 53 of 62 attempts (85.5%) in 29 games and a personal-best 35 field goals last season. He was cut at the end of training camp, losing the job Ka’imi Fairbairn.
“It was the whole body of work,” Lynn said, in assessing Koo’s performance. “For right now, we feel like Nick was the right choice. Nick’s been a very accurate kicker in this league for a long time, and his experience in big games … every game we’ve played so far has been a close game, and every play, every point matters.”
DiGiovanna writes for the Los Angeles Times.