The Detroit Lions have lots of different positional battles going on throughout training camp, and “Hard Knocks” has given us a look into the competitions at running back and linebacker so far. What they haven’t shown us—and what I anticipate will be a big part of the third episode—is the kicking competition.
Bold prediction of the week: Lions kicker competition is decided against the Colts
Last week we saw Austin Seibert and Riley Patterson go a combined three-for-three on field goals against the Falcons. Seibert nailed a 46-yard attempt, while Patterson countered with makes from 27 and 28 yards.
It is my firm belief that both Seibert and Patterson are starting caliber NFL kickers, and they can’t go wrong with either one. Although I think Patterson’s leg strength “issues” are way overplayed, I will concede that Seibert has the bigger leg. It’s for that reason that I envision him winning the job come September.
Seibert’s abilities are more in line with what the Lions need at the kicker position given Dan Campbell’s aggression on fourth downs. A kicker who’s cash inside of 50 yards doesn’t matter if you’re never kicking field goals inside of 50 yards. That’s an exaggeration, of course, but in the big picture, Seibert complements what the Lions want to do with their offense, rather than competing with it.
NFL teams don’t often leave kicker battles to be decided during the last preseason game, and I fully expect Dan Campbell to throw fourth down aggression out the window against Indianapolis on Saturday in favor of deciding this battle. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Patterson (or Seibert, should he not win the job) land on the Lions’ practice squad, as the newly expanded practice squad rules proved very friendly to adding backup specialists across the league in 2021.
With Seibert spending most of his offseason rehabbing from a brutal injury and not at 100 percent, whoever wins the job doesn’t have any long-term guarantees. Seibert may not have the volume of kicking this offseason to sustain his performance, but if that happens he could usurp Patterson midseason if he hits his groove. Should the Lions find themselves able to retain both kickers with one on the practice squad, consider this battle far from over. In the meantime, however, the Lions could part ways with one of the two after this weekend, with the second round of cuts (to 80 players) due on Tuesday, August 23.