Lions OTA observations: Is an underdog getting leg up in kicking competition?

Detroit News

Allen Park — Here are some notes and observations from Thursday’s OTA practice, the second of the offseason open to the media.

▶ As of last week, it appeared the Lions had an interesting kicking competition brewing.

There’s the incumbent, Michael Badgley. Last year’s midseason acquisition was sharp in his 12-game audition, making 20-of-24 field goals and all 33 of his extra points. Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp was a big fan of Badgley’s demeanor and approach, which helped earn the veteran a new, one-year contract with the Lions this offseason, which included $350,000 in guarantees.

But last week, the team brought back a familiar face to challenge Badgley, trading a conditional seventh-round draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Riley Patterson. A midseason addition the previous year, Patterson missed just one of 14 field-goal attempts in seven games for the Lions in 2021, before losing a camp competition to Austin Seibert last training camp. Claimed off waivers by Jacksonville, Patterson converted 30-of-35 field goals with a long of 53 yards for the Jaguars last season.

That said, if Thursday’s practice was indicative of anything, maybe we’re sleeping on the third contender for the job. Parker Romo, an undrafted rookie in 2022, spent his first NFL offseason with the Saints, prior to joining the San Antonio Brahmas of the XFL. There he paced the league with 17 field-goal makes (on 19 attempts) with a long of 57.

His leg strength was on full display Thursday, when he hammered home attempts from 43, 48 (twice), 53 and 61. The Lions even pushed him out for a try from 64 yards, but despite having plenty of distance, he sent the effort wide right.

Patterson, on the other hand, wasn’t as sharp. He missed wide left from 48 and was short and well left on an effort from 57. He did close the day with two successful attempts from 53.

Badgley, for unknown reasons, didn’t attempt any kicks.

Regardless, the Lions probably won’t carry three kickers on the roster for long. One day isn’t much of a sample size, but if Romo’s showing was reflective of the work he’s been doing when the media hasn’t had access, he deserves a look that extends into the preseason.

▶ It happened in a flash, and was broken up just a quickly, but there was a minor, multi-player shoving match between the starting offense and defense during the walkthrough segment at the beginning of practice.

▶ The Lions did some situational, end-of-game work, which was largely dominated by the defense. The scenario saw the offense taking over with 45 seconds at their own 38-yard line, down three points.

The starting offense, which was without three regulars on the offensive line, struggled to get into a rhythm. Amon-Ra St. Brown had a couple of short catches, but had a third target knocked away by safety Ifeatu Melifonwu, filling in for the absent C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

Another one of quarterback Jared Goff’s passes, intended for Kalif Raymond, was errant due to pressure and nearly picked off by safety Kerby Joseph.

The second offensive unit was even worse. Backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld was shaky, twice misfiring on throws to Tom Kennedy and on a third to Jameson Williams, where the QB and receiver appeared to be on different pages. The group did avoid a quick turnover on downs when rookie tight end Sam LaPorta got lost in the secondary on a crosser for a conversion.

Quickly getting into another fourth-and-10, and with just seven ticks left on the clock, Kennedy bailed the offense out with a big gain on a crossing pattern, getting out of bounds, in field-goal range, with one second remaining.

▶ Joseph did pick Goff earlier in practice, jumping a Raymond route during seven-on-seven work and returning it to the house.

▶ Jahmyr Gibbs joined Maurice Alexander, Jermar Jefferson, Craig Reynolds and Raymond doing kickoff return reps.

▶ Lions coach Dan Campbell noted before practice that the team would be holding out around a dozen players from participating. Here’s that list:

Gardner-Johnson, Marvin Jones, Emmanuel Moseley (ACL), David Montgomery, Hendon Hooker (ACL), Trinity Benson (knee), Chase Lucas, Malcolm Rodriguez, Logan Stenberg, Kayode Awosika, Frank Ragnow, John Cominsky, Antoine Green, Levi Onwuzurike, Isaiah Buggs.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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