Jets Add Competition at Kicker, Signaling Last Chance Opportunity

Alex Kessman

Getty Pittsburgh Panthers product Alex Kessman has signed with the New York Jets practice squad.

As expected, the New York Jets were in the market for a kicker after the Week 11 debacle.

The surprise was that the franchise appears willing to give Matt Ammendola one final opportunity to prove he’s still the guy. Most undrafted first-year kickers with a 68.8% conversion rate don’t receive extra chances like this but the Jets love the Oklahoma State product’s strong leg and have tried their best to teach him the rest.

So far, it just hasn’t clicked as the inaccurate Ammendola has faltered in crucial moments. Enter competitor Alex Kessman, an undrafted rookie out of Pittsburgh.

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Kessman Wins Kicker Tryouts

If you were wondering if the former Pittsburgh Panther (and Los Angeles Charger) was just handed a place on the Jets practice squad, he wasn’t. Kessman had to earn it by beating out three others — veteran Josh Lambo, 2020 UDFA Dominik Eberle and ex-Washington Football Team replacement Chris Blewitt according to NFL reporter Aaron Wilson.

Ironically, we had suggested that Joe Douglas sign Lambo to the practice squad back on October 19, but it looks like the former Jacksonville Jaguars 2019 kicking leader wasn’t up to snuff after his recent injury.

Kessman and Eberle were also players that were on the old radar this summer before the Jets ever signed Ammendola. Both are young prospects that have shown promise. Douglas and special teams coordinator Brant Boyer chose the man from Pitt.

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Ammendola vs. Kessman

With Kessman joining the practice squad in place of linebacker Corey Thompson, you’d assume that this is still Ammendola’s job to lose. Douglas just decided to put some pressure on him after his two misses against Miami.

Like the Jets’ current kicker, Kessman is known for his distance. According to team reporter Ethan Greenberg, “he set Pitt records for 50-yard field goals in a career (12) and season (4 in both 2018 and 2020), and his 66.7% rate from 50-plus yards set an NCAA record.”

Ammendola has struggled in this area, going 0-for-3 from 50-plus yards in 2021 and 2-for-4 from 40-49 yards. His leg strength isn’t the problem, it’s his accuracy from long. The 25-year old has also missed one extra point but has gone a perfect 9-for-9 from inside 39 yards.

Kessman has never kicked in a regular-season NFL game and registered a 71.9 field goal percentage during his four years at Pittsburgh (97.1% on extra points). The 23-year old will turn 24 in January, hailing from Clarkstown, Michigan. He was a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award.

It looks like the Green & White kicking duties will fall to Ammendola or Kessman for the time being, so those dreaming of a José Borregales waiver claim will have to wait.

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In Other News…

Dennis Waszak Jr. of the Associated Press also announced that the Jets will be protecting three players from the practice squad this week — QB Josh Johnson, EDGE Jabari Zuniga and CB Lamar Jackson.

We have not seen Jackson yet in 2021 but this makes sense with Brandin Echols on the injured reserve. The Dolphins attacked Isaiah Dunn and Jason Pinnock in Week 11 and it worked, so perhaps we’ll see a promotion of the 2020 UDFA that started six games last season.

Johnson’s big moment was in Week 9 after Mike White left with an injury, while 2020 third-rounder Zuniga has already been elevated twice this season. The defensive end has three total tackles, a forced fumble and one sack off two quarterback pressures in those outings.


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