Who is most likely to replace Lions’ kicker Alex Henery?
Jim Caldwell announced on Monday morning that Henery has been released.
After Sunday's loss, coach Jim Caldwell talked about how the NFL is a performance-based business. You don’t perform, you don’t have a job.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that veterans Matt Prater and Jay Feely are on their way to Detroit for tryouts.
Henery’s three missed field goals (44, 47, 50 yards) cost the Lions who lost 17-14 to the Bills thanks to a 58-yard field goal from Dan Carpenter.
Field goal kicking is key because Lions’ punter Sam Martin handles the kickoffs.
Here are a few of the best options:
1. Matt Prater was released by the Denver Broncos on Friday after he served a four-game suspension for breaking the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Prater set an NFL record with a 64-yard field goal last season. He was 25 of 26 in field goal attempts. That 96.2 percentage was a career best for the 30-year-old who spent seven of his eight NFL seasons with the Broncos. One concern could be character. Caldwell is big on quality character guys. Prater’s issue is alcohol. He’s been in the NFL’s alcohol program since he was charged with a DUI in 2011.
2. Jay Feely tweeted on Sunday that he’s just waiting for the Lions to call. Feely, who kicked at the University of Michigan, was released by the Arizona Cardinals in August. He’s 38 and apparently thinks he still has something left. In 2013 he was 30 of 36 in field goal attempts (83.3 percent) with a long of 52 yards. His career long is 61 yards which he kicked in 2012 for the Cardinals. He’s got 13 years of NFL experience. He also tweeted on Sunday that he would be in the Upper Peninsula this week enjoying the colors. Would he make a sidetrip to Allen Park for a workout? Sounds like he would.
3. Jason Hanson retired after the 2012 season when the Lions offered him the minimum for 2013. It was a costly decision. David Akers was 19 of 24 (79.2 percent). Hanson was 82.9 percent on field goals in his 21-season career and 88.9 percent in his final season in 2012. Has he been working out? Staying in shape is one thing, in kicking shape is another. He’s been around the practice facility occasionally specifically in the spring and in camp helping Nate Freese who was released after a 3-of-7 start and Giorgio Tavecchio who was released in favor of Freese, a seventh-round draft pick. Hanson is 44. (Remember NFL kicker George Blanda retired at the age of 48 and kicker Morten Andersen retired at age 47.)
4. Giorgio Tavecchio is a long shot simply because of lack of experience. The battle with Freese was very close. Freese could have gotten the job because he was a draft pick while Tavecchio was a free agent. For the Lions to sign him, it would be admitting they made a mistake in August when they went with Freese.
5. Garrett Hartley only made 22 of 30 field goals for the New Orleans Saints in 2013. He has familiarity with some of the Lions coaches which might help. Hartley missed the 2011 season with a hip injury. He was inconsistent upon his return and was released by the Saints in December 2013. He tried out for the Lions several weeks ago and lost out to Henery. Also trying out that day was Rob Bironas who was killed in a car crash two weeks ago.
Others available include 37-year old Rian Lindell who was 23 of 29 (79.3 percent) with the Tampa Bay Bucs in 2013, his 14th NFL season.
While Detroit fans might think they want Havard “Kickalicious” Rugland they really don’t. He’s a great guy with a cool accent and a wonderful video, but totally lacking in any football experience.