Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos knew something wasn’t right with his groin after a rainy training camp practice in early August.
“The ball gets heavier (when it rains) and I just felt sore,” Santos said. “The next time I kicked, it just got worse and worse until I felt a pop on one of practice kicks. That’s when I knew something was wrong with it.”
The strained groin was significant enough to keep Santos out of action for the Chiefs’ first three preseason games. But he was optimistic he would be able to recover in time for the regular season — he will indeed be the kicker for the season opener Thursday against New England — because it’s an injury he’s suffered before, back when he was a sophomore at Tulane.
The pain was much worse then — it took him about seven weeks to recover that time — but he kicked through it anyway. He was able to cut his recovery time in half this time thanks to the Chiefs’ caution with the injury.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
“I feel really good,” Santos said.
Santos returned to action in the Chiefs’ final preseason game Thursday against the Tennessee Titans. He missed one extra point on his first attempt of the night but converted three others and kicked a 48-yard field goal.
Santos attributes the missed extra point to being out of rhythm, since he opted not to warm up as much on the sideline before the kick in an effort to protect his groin.
“I went up and took the extra point without warming up much, and I just didn’t like it because I didn’t feel good without the routine,” Santos said. “So I went back to it and said ‘You know what, I’m just going to warm up like I normally do. Whatever many kicks I need to feel good.’ ”
After he, he said, he was golden.
“Then I struck every ball after that exactly how I wanted,” Santos said. “It was nice to have a long field goal too, to give you that confidence.”