By Ashley Dunkak
ALLEN PARK (CBS DETROIT) – The Detroit Lions released their second kicker of the season Monday, and the scramble to fill the void is underway.
Prater, the kicker for the Denver Broncos since 2007, made 25 of his 26 field goals last season but has been serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He was set to be reinstated Monday, Oct. 6, according to ESPN. Prater has made 81.6 percent of kicks in his career.
Feely, in his 14th NFL season, spent the last three years with the Arizona Cardinals. He has converted on 82.7 percent of his career attempts. In 2013 Feely made 30 of 36 tries.
Feely seemed confident he would get an opportunity with the Lions as Sunday’s game unfolded.
According to the Detroit News, the Lions will also bring in Connor Barth, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker who missed the 2013 season with a torn Achilles tendon. In the five seasons before that lost year, Barth made 84.2 percent of his kicks.
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell would not comment on whom the team was bringing in for workouts, but he said the team has a responsibility to get its kicking situation figured out – though he indicated that is easier said than done.
“[In a tryout] you can’t put them in a game situation and find out everything you need to know about them,” Caldwell said. “That’s an unknown and an uncertainty, but you have to certainly make your best guess and go with it, and if it’s not, then get it corrected, and don’t be ashamed to get it corrected, regardless of what happens.
“In any business, you find out why a certain event happened, and then you take steps to correct it, and you don’t try to cover it up and act as if it didn’t, and don’t hide your head in the sand,” Caldwell continued. “That’s the thing I think you’ll find that’s refreshing about our organization is that we’re not afraid to get this thing straightened out, and I think we owe it to our team, we owe it to our fans.”
The team’s previous two kickers this season, rookie Nate Freese and veteran Alex Henery, are 4 of 12 for Detroit. Both of the team’s losses this season have included multiple misses by kickers.
Caldwell did not entertain a question Monday as to how the season would be different had the Lions not had the struggles they have in the kicking game.
“I’m not a real big guy when it comes to what-ifs and theoreticals,” Caldwell said. “I’m not one that delves into a lot of philosophical platitudes. I deal with the facts. We are where we are, and often times, we could have made even the games that we lost a little bit different games if we’d executed in other areas better.”
Nevertheless, obviously, the Lions need a dependable kicker. Caldwell said there is someone out there who is right for the team; the Lions just need to track him down.
“We’ve got to find a performer,” Caldwell said. “That’s basically what we have to get done in that area. We’ve got to get a guy who’s consistent under pressure and be able to get us points on the board … In this league, there are going to be close games. Guys in that position are going to decide a number of games. We’ve got to make certain we get the right guy for us.”