By Ashley Dunkak
CBS DETROIT – The Detroit Lions signed their third kicker of the season Tuesday, inking a one-year deal with Matt Prater.
The Lions also worked out Jay Feely and Connor Barth. Detroit had released Alex Henery on Monday morning after Henery missed three field goals in Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Prater made 25 of 26 attempts with the Denver Broncos last season, but the team cut him right before he finished his four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Prater also holds the record for the longest kick in NFL history, a 64-yarder he hit for Denver last season.
Feely, a 14-year veteran, made 30 of 36 kicks for the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 and has made 82.7 percent of 398 career attempts.
Barth, the youngest of the bunch, missed the 2013 season with an Achilles injury but had made 84.2 percent of his kicks over five previous years.
The Lions have already chosen and discarded two kickers this season. They gave rookie Nate Freese – on whom they spent a seventh-round draft pick – the job out of training camp, but he made just 3 of 7 attempts in the team’s first three games. Detroit released Freese and then picked up Alex Henery, but Henery proved even less effective, missing four of five attempts over two games for the Lions.
Freese went 0 for 2 in Detroit’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, and Henery went 0 for 3 in Sunday’s loss to the Bills. Those two games are the only ones the Lions have lost this season. The defeats cannot be pinned solely on the kicking game, of course, but missed field goals leave points on the board – ones that are almost automatic elsewhere in the league – and take an emotional toll on the team as well.
“It’s so hard when you’re moving the ball and you finally get down there, you get into field goal range, and the fact you don’t come [away] with points, one time is tough,” left guard Rob Sims said Sunday after the loss, “but then three times is, you know what I mean, it’s very, very hard to overcome.”