Detroit Lions still searching for Matt Prater’s replacement, sign K Zane Gonzalez

Detroit Free Press

From Matt Prater to a big question mark.

That’s where the Detroit Lions stand at kicker two weeks into training camp after making a much-needed move at the position Tuesday.

The Lions signed kicker Zane Gonzalez to a one-year deal, his agent Mike McCartney said on Twitter, and will have him compete with Randy Bullock for the job left open this spring by Prater’s departure in free agency. The Lions waived kicker Matthew Wright after signing him this past January.

Wright struggled throughout training camp and missed one of three attempts in practice Tuesday. Bullock has fared only slightly better. He made four of five kicks Tuesday, but missed from 49 yards and has been inaccurate from distance throughout camp.

The two went a combined 0-for-4 on field goals beyond 45 yards in the Lions’ Ford Field practice Saturday.

“Bullock’s been kicking it well to this point. Yeah, he had a rough one today,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said Saturday. “Let’s see how we correct it. This is not going to be a knee-jerk reaction from me right now. It’s way too soon. But certainly, he would be the first one to tell you he needs to kick better.”

The Lions have been spoiled at kicker over most of the past three decades, going from Jason Hanson to Prater almost without missing a beat.

David Akers had a down year in 2013, making just 19 of 24 field goals in Hanson’s first year of retirement. The Lions cycled through two kickers at the start of the 2014, Nate Freese and Alex Henery, before signing Prater early in the season.

Prater made 84.4% of his kicks in seven seasons with the Lions, but was just 10 of 17 from 40-plus yards last season.

Gonzalez, 26, made 54 of 66 field goals (81.8%) in two-plus seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. He missed the end of last season with a back injury, and also spent parts of two seasons with the Cleveland Browns early in his career.

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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