Lions notes: Dan Campbell searching for fast start formula; kickers locked in battle

Detroit News

Allen Park — The sting of missing the postseason last year because of a tiebreaker and some questionable officiating hasn’t fully faded. But had the Lions not started the 2022 campaign losing six of their first seven games, it probably wouldn’t be a conversation.

Slow starts have been an issue under coach Dan Campbell. In his first season, the team didn’t manage to win its first game until Week 13. And last year’s 1-6 start prohibited the Lions from entering the playoff conversation until late December, while removing nearly all margin of error.

So with eyes on getting back into the playoffs for the first time since 2016, starting faster has to be a priority for the Lions. And finding the right formula to accomplish that is the stuff that keeps Campbell awake at night.

“Yeah, you go back and forth, and that’s something that I’m always thinking about is how do we do this?” Campbell said Tuesday. “Is there a different approach? Were we too light (with our practice routine)? Were we too hard? Do we need to have more volume? Do we need to have more intensity?”

West Michigan love

Campbell opened his Tuesday news conference talking about a recent trip to Grand Rapids, where he went to watch his daughter play in a volleyball tournament.

“It was good stuff. A lot of fans out there, and they were great,” Campbell said. “It was good to get out there. A lot of good fans out there and it almost felt like it was, ‘Hey man, don’t forget about us, you know?’ And we don’t.”

Asked if there was any consideration given to rewarding those fans by moving a couple training camp practices to the western side of the state, Campbell acknowledged it’s something he’s thought about, while also noting logistic hurdles.

“A lot of it comes down to the logistics of it,” Campbell said. “Where are we practicing? What is this turf like? What is the field? So, we have thought about it, but that’s about as far as it has gone.”

The Lions have rarely ventured outside of their practice facility in Allen Park for training camp since it opened in 2002, outside of some out-of-town joint sessions with other franchises in recent years and the annual Family Fest event at Ford Field.

Under former coach Jim Caldwell, the Lions held a couple practices off campus, going to Wayne State in 2014 and Novi High School in 2015.

Kicking job wide open

The Lions have three kickers on the roster and Campbell insists it will be a healthy, open competition for the job come August.

“We’ve told all those guys it’s a competition,” Campbell said. “That’s why we have three guys right now. All three of those guys are very much live. We’ve been trying to make an emphasis of competition at every position and kicker is no different and those guys know that.”

Michael Badgley, the incumbent who re-signed with the Lions as a free agent this offseason, hasn’t been doing much in the practices open to the media, suggesting he could be nursing a minor injury. That’s left Riley Patterson and newcomer Parker Romo to handle the duties.

Patterson, who was with the Lions in training camp last year, and was recently reacquired in a trade from Jacksonville and kicked for the team in 2021. That season, he made 13 of 14 field goal attempts in seven games. And as the Jaguars kicker last year, he went 30-for-35.

Romo, the most productive kicker in the XFL last season, showcased a big leg in practice a week ago, making one attempt from beyond 60 yards and having the necessary distance from 65 but missed it wide right.

Campbell said he looks forward to seeing all three in game action, since that intensity can’t be simulated on the practice field.

A fond farewell

Norma Hunt, wife of late Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, and the only woman to attend every Super Bowl, died this past weekend at the age of 85.

Norma Hunt and Lions owner/chair emeritus Martha Firestone Ford were featured in the 2019 documentary “A Lifetime of Sundays,” which chronicled the impact of four key female figures in NFL history.

“Norma Hunt’s positivity and passion for our sport will be dearly missed by all who knew her,” Firestone Ford wrote in a statement. “It was an extraordinary pleasure and honor to see our families included together in ‘A Lifetime of Sundays,’ and I hope people always remember her role in the history of the NFL.”

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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