NOTEBOOK: Freese wins kicking competition

Posted Aug 25, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Monday's practice including Nate Freese earning the job as the Lions' kicker, former Lion Shaun Hill taking over for the injured Sam Bradford in Saint Louis and more.

For just the third time since 1980, the Detroit Lions will start the season with a rookie kicker.

In 1980 they went with seventh-round pick Eddie Murray, who won the MVP of the Pro Bowl as a rookie.

In 1992 it was second-round pick Jason Hanson, who now holds every kicking record in team history after a 21-year career.

The torch has now been passed to 2014 seventh-round pick Nate Freese, who was announced as the Lions place kicker heading into the season by head coach Jim Caldwell on Monday.

“I’m grateful for my opportunity and hope to make the most of it,” Freese said after practice Monday.

“I have spoken to both (Murray and Hanson) a couple weeks ago and they just told me how to approach the game. You have to take care of your body and be professional. Little helpful hints.”

Freese beat out Giorgio Tavecchio, who was battling him all training camp for the job. Tavecchio was one of the players released Monday as the team trimmed the roster down to the required 75 players.

“Obviously it was a tough competition, it was a very, very difficult decision and Giorgio (Tavecchio) did a nice job,” Caldwell said. “I think both guys took this thing on in a professional manner and Nate (Freese) ended up edging him out. I think they are both very capable guys but as we look at all the factors, Nate (Freese) was the best one for us at this time.”

Caldwell pointed to Freese’s 55-yard field goal in Oakland the second preseason game as a kick that might have set him apart in the competition. Freese nailed it off the dirt of O.Co Coliseum into the wind with only eight seconds left in the first half.

“He made some tough kicks,” Caldwell said of Freese. “Particularly the one in Oakland was a very, very difficult one, under tough conditions off the dirt. We made all those factors, took a look at them and ironed them all out. We just felt he was the best choice for us at this time.”

Caldwell said Freese is his guy heading into the season and the team isn’t looking to pursue any veterans on the open market or any kickers who might be cut during the final roster trim down this weekend.


The St. Louis Rams lost quarterback Sam Bradford to a torn ACL in Saturday night’s preseason game against Cleveland.

Former Detroit Lions backup Shaun Hill will now likely be the starter in St. Louis when the season begins.

“He’s a gamer,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said of Hill. “He’s a guy, if you go throw routes on air in shorts and a T-shirt, he might not look much different than anybody else.

“When the lights come on, he plays hard. Guys play for him. He has a personality that guys follow. He’ll get those guys going.”

Losing a starting quarterback to injury is the kind of blow coaches fear in the preseason, but Caldwell said it’s never a good strategy to coach in fear.

“You can’t predict injuries, nor can you let them necessarily sway your thinking and prejudice towards one way or the other,” he said.

“You have to look at (the injury) and judge it according to what you think and how you think it should go and make a decision accordingly.

“It’s just like (Indiana Pacers Small Forward Paul) George with the USA basketball team, right? You saw some guys pull out. You see other guys who are still playing hard. (Chicago Bulls Point Guard Derrick) Rose is still playing. I see (New Orleans Pelicans Power Forward) Anthony Davis is still playing and some of those guys. Everybody looks at it a little bit differently in that sense, but some will keep rolling and some will certainly be affected by it. We’re going to keep rolling.”


Kyle Van NoyKyle Van Noy (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Kyle Van Noy is scheduled to have a specialist take a look at his abdominal injury, according to Caldwell.

“He’s still under evaluation,” Caldwell said before practice today. “He’s still got to see the doctors, and the doctors are going to tell him. He’s going to a specialist to take a look at it, and we’ll make a determination, at that point in time, where he is.”

Van Noy did not play against Jacksonville after feeling abdominal pain during a light practice on Thursday.


The Lions were without running back Reggie Bush, safety Don Carey and linebacker Kyle Van Noy at practice Monday afternoon.

Fullback Montell Owens, who left Friday’s game against Jacksonville with a head injury, returned to practice on Monday.


The Lions claimed Michael Egnew from the Dolphins and Emil Igwenagu from the Eagles on waivers, according to USA Today.

The team doesn’t officially announce waiver claims until the players pass a physical.

Egnew is a former third-round pick in 2012 and has seven career catches.

Igwenagu has played in three career games, but is versatile enough to play tight end and fullback if needed.