‘He can be that guy’: Detroit Lions keep faith in K Austin Seibert, status uncertain

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Lions kicking game has cost the team valuable points and field position for two consecutive weeks, and possibly, wins.

Last week was Dominik Eberle. The second-year kicker from Utah State was moved to the active roster once it was clear Austin Seibert (groin) couldn’t play.

Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said the team had confidence in Eberle based on what they’d seen on film, in his game with the Texans last year − he went 2-for-3 on field goals, hit from more than 50 yards out and connected on all five extra points − and his week of practice with the Lions.

Then, he missed two extra points and sent a kickoff out of bounds, setting the Seahawks up at the 40-yard line.

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“For me personally I was disappointed because I felt like I let this team down and this organization, the fan base, whatever,” Fipp said. “We expect to go out there and make PATs, kick the ball off and I know he gave his best effort but it wasn’t good enough on Sunday.”

The Lions waived Eberle on Tuesday.

It’s unclear whether Seibert will kick against New England on Sunday, though he did practice Wednesday. Fipp said last week he thought Seibert had a chance to play “based off the information we got back” but that didn’t happen.

Still, it was only one week prior when Lions fans weren’t happy with Seibert, either. In the final minutes of the Lions Week 3 game at Minnesota game, Seibert missed a 54-yard field goal that would have put them up by six.

The majority of the ire was pointed at Dan Campbell − he immediately admitted after the game he wished he had gone for the fourth-and-short conversion to seal the win. Had he not done that, the next best decision was likely to punt.

Instead, he gave Seibert the opportunity to kick, who pushed the field goal wide right. Minnesota was in the end zone three plays later, which sent the Lions to their second loss in three weeks.

Seibert is 3-for-5 on field goals this season with a long of 48, and 12-for-12 on extra points. Fipp believes the Lions haven’t seen his best yet.

“I definitely believe he can be that guy,” Fipp said. “I mean we kept him for a reason. He had a great training camp, he was healthy, felt great, ball was coming off his foot good. His numbers were really the best numbers, he had the best leg and we made the decision to keep him based off that.”

If Seibert can’t go against the Patriots, it will be Michael Badgley, whom the Lions signed earlier this week after he was cut by the Chicago Bears. Badgely filled in for an injured Cairo Santos a week ago and connected on all four field goals, from 29, 22, 40 and 35 yards.

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Last year he went 18-for-21 on field goals in Indianapolis and connected on all 39 extra points he attempted. He went 1-for-2 on field goals and missed an extra point in the one game he played in Tennessee before signing with the Colts. He previously spent three seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, making 80% of his field goals (52-for-65).

Still, he doesn’t sound like the long term plan.

“We had the information everybody had in terms of the film that’s out there on him,” Fipp said. “We knew that he played in Chicago a week ago which I think helps. We have one game here then we get a bye, so our thought was who can we get in here that can help us the most for one game at least and help us get through this thing if Seibert can’t go.”

Fipp was asked since there have been two kickers already this year with multiple misses, if there’s anything that needs to be addressed in the snapping (Scott Daly) or holding (Jack Fox) portions of the kicking process. Fipp said “absolutely not.”

Eliminating mistakes in the kicking game this week, getting healthy over the bye week, and getting the Seibert that Fipp and the Lions expected for the final 12 games of the season is the plan.

“I thought he would have a great year for us,” Fipp said. “Obviously he had a little bit of a setback there and now he’s got to fight through that.”

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