Kicker Austin Seibert combatted frustration and soreness during Detroit Lions OTAs in June, when the ball wasn’t coming off his foot with the same “pop” he was used to.
“Obviously, guys want to come back sooner than their body will let them,” Seibert said Wednesday. “And when they get back on the field, you start getting stronger, so you gotta re-harness everything as you get stronger and healthier.”
Claimed by the Lions from Cincinnati last September, Seibert appeared in six games, going 10-for-12 (83.3%) on field goals with a long of 52 yards and 5-for-5 on extra points. His emergence was a nice surprise, until he was placed on injured reserve in November with a hip injury that required surgery.
The former fifth-rounder from Oklahoma has mostly recovered from his ailment, and felt like he was kicking at maximum strength around three weeks ago. Seibert has missed two field goals during team kicking periods since training camp began, but nailed a 54-yarder, surpassing his career long in a game.
“I feel really good right now, probably the strongest I’ve been bouncing back from that,” he said of his offseason progress. “It’s just been a lot of hard work and whatnot, but the training staff here has been awesome and has really helped me.
“Just getting everything else kind of cleaned up and making sure I’m staying healthy is kind of the main thing right now.”
Lions executive John Dorsey played a role in acquiring Siebert after drafting him while GM of the Cleveland Browns. Seibert seems to have the edge on Riley Patterson for the starting kicking job; one of few Lions roster competitions remaining ahead of the season.
Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said Wednesday the starting nod won’t simply come down to who makes or misses more kicks in camp. Instead, Fipp is watching every move in warmups, practice, live periods and will eye future workouts inside Ford Field while accounting for their performance in past games — their “total body of work.”
Seibert has the leg up on Patterson in experience prior to arriving in Detroit. He made 21 appearances in three seasons with the Browns and Bengals, going 31-for-38 on field goals (81.5%) and 38-for-44 on extra points (86.3%). Physically, his leg appears stronger than Patterson’s, too.
“I would say kickoff wise, being able to go both directions,” Seibert said of advantages in his arsenal. “On kickoff, have good hang times, that definitely helps, and then just being repeatable on field goals.
“I think each year that I’ve been in the league, I’ve improved on my field goal technique and work. And just getting thrown into live situations more and more just helps you get acclimated to a game day, or the more pressure you can be put in helps you the most.”
Patterson, an undrafted free agent from Memphis, spent time with the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings last season before sticking with the Lions. In seven games as a rookie, following Seibert’s injury, he went 13-for-14 on field goals and 16-for-16 on extra points.
Fipp said he feels better about the kicking situation than he did last year, when the Lions cut Randy Bullock and Zane Gonzalez in August and took a flier on Seibert.
“I feel like we have two guys who could definitely play in the National Football League right now here in this building,” Fipp said. “I think they had a great offseason. They’re really committed players. Football is really important to both of ’em, they have a great work ethic, they’re great people, and teammates really like both of ’em.
“So I feel really good with where we’re at, and ultimately now, it really kind of makes our job easy. We just sit back and watch and kind of see where they can go from here.”
Wednesday marked a light, padless practice, and Seibert adjusted accordingly as he maintains a relaxed demeanor through camp.
“I just go through some simple doable steps and techniques and things like that,” Seibert said. “Nothing too major. You kind of try and let the mind chill on off days. I mean, you can analyze the film and watch film, but if you overanalyze things, that’s when things start going haywire and you start thinking too much.
“I’m kicking well right now, so just continuing to do that and focusing on techniques and things like that, and just staying positive throughout all that.”
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