Their kicking situation was so bad that the Detroit Lions punted on the position, at least when it came to setting their initial 53-man roster.
The Lions released kickers Randy Bullock and Zane Gonzalez on Tuesday, leaving them with no kickers currently under contract.
Both Bullock and Gonzalez, who signed in mid-August, struggled during training camp practices, and the Lions now will look for a replacement on the waiver wire.
Rookie Jake Verity, who was waived by the Baltimore Ravens, and veteran Michael Badgley, who was cut by the Los Angeles Chargers, are two possibilities.
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The Lions, who have experienced extreme stability at the kicker position for most of the past four decades — Eddie Murray, Jason Hanson and Matt Prater held the job for 40 of the past 41 years — are expected to be active churning the back end of their roster at positions other than kicker when waiver claims are awarded Wednesday.
They have just two tight ends and eight offensive linemen currently on their roster, but will re-sign some of Tuesday’s cuts to the practice squad.
“I think what needs to be remembered here is (just because a player makes the initial 53-man roster) does not mean that this is who we’re riding with all the way through the season,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said Monday. “There’s going to be some guys that are going to be on our team that aren’t even in the building yet. That’s probably going to happen. There’s a good chance that can happen.”
The Lions made 20 moves in all Tuesday, cutting 18 players, placing Jashon Cornell on the reserve/suspended list and trading for receiver Trinity Benson. They will free up an addition roster spot Wednesday when they place quarterback Tim Boyle (broken thumb) on injured reserve.
Benson, who was vying for the No. 5 receiver job with the Denver Broncos, is one of six receivers on the Lions’ current roster along with projected starters Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond and Amon-Ra St. Brown, and backups Quintez Cephus and Tom Kennedy.
Kennedy led the Lions with eight catches and 107 yards receiving this preseason, and won a roster spot after two years on the practice squad.
The Lions also went heavy at running back, where seventh-round pick Jermar Jefferson and converted safety Godwin Igwebuike made the roster as backups to D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, and at defensive tackle, were seven interior linemen made the initial roster, including the injured Da’Shawn Hand.
It is unclear if Hand’s groin injury will necessitate a trip to injured reserve.
While Kennedy, Igwebuike and defensive linemen Kevin Strong and John Penisini were among the bubble players who survived Tuesday’s cut, the Lions released veteran slot cornerbacks Corn Elder and Nickell Robey-Coleman and third-year linebacker Jahlani Tavai, a second-round pick in 2019.
With Elder and Robey-Coleman gone, the Lions will have one of the youngest secondaries in the NFL. All five projected starters — cornerbacks Jeff Okudah, Amani Oruwariye and A.J. Parker, and safeties Tracy Walker and Will Harris — are on their rookie contracts, and only backup safety Dean Marlowe is more than 26 years old.
Parker is one of two undrafted rookies to make the team, along with fellow cornerback Jerry Jacobs. The Lions also have rookie Ifeatu Melifonwu, a third-round pick, and second-year defensive back Bobby Price, who converted from safety to cornerback this summer, at the cornerback position.
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“We have a lot of young talent in there,” Campbell said Monday. “Look, it’s a very young group, as young as it gets. I would venture to say it’s probably the youngest group if you kept all of those guys, but I know it’s a group that we like a lot and it’s a group we want to work with. And we think there’s room for them to really grow and develop and those guys do a lot on special teams for us.”
Here is a full list of the Lions’ roster cuts Tuesday:
WR Geronimo Allison
K Randy Bullock
CB Corn Elder
K Zane Gonzalez
CB Nickell Robey-Coleman
LB Tavante Beckett
LB Rashod Berry
S Jalen Elliott
DT Bruce Hector
G Tommy Kraemer
TE Alize Mack
WR Javon McKinley
RB Dedrick Mills
T Darrin Paulo
RB Craig Reynolds
WR Sage Surratt
LB Jahlani Tavai
TE Brock Wright