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Monday, October 19, 2015

Denver Broncos Kicker, Punter & Snapper News

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October 18, 2015 - Brandon McManus kicks OT game winner over Cleveland
"The Broncos are still perfect on the season thanks in part to kicker Brandon McManus, even if he isn't. With the game-winning 34-yard field goal, along with three other successful attempts, McManus continued to have an integral impact on the Broncos, though he did miss his first field-goal opportunity of the season. With FirstEnergy Stadium right off Lake Erie, the wind sliced through the deep architectural divisions in the northeast and southeast corners of the stadium and provided McManus with a challenge from the first steps he took on the field. 'That first half and the warmups, the ball was moving from one upright all the way to the other, even at 40-yard distances,' McManus said. "It was pretty unbelievable."...  He figured the Browns would take a last-second timeout in an effort to ice him, but that just gave him an opportunity to test the waters. 'Usually they try to ice the kicker, especially a younger guy,' McManus said. 'I'm one of those guys who likes to get his practice rep in, and see if my ball go through the uprights on the distance and kind of see what the wind is doing.' The second attempt was as true as the first, and the Broncos escaped the Dawg Pound with their sixth victory in as many games. '[The offense] did a great job of getting me down the field, making a very easy kick at 34 yards, and that's the hash I wanted it to be on based off the wind in warmups,' McManus said. 'But [that was an] unbelievable team win. We fought together to seal this thing on the road to get to 6-0'." - Broncos

October 4, 2015 - Brandon McManus kicks game winner over Minnesota
"Brandon McManus kicked three field goals, including a 39-yarder with 1:51 remaining, and the Broncos hung on to beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-20 Sunday to remain undefeated.... McManus has converted all eight of his field-goal attempts this season, including a 33-yarder and 47-yarder prior to the game winner. 'We're trying to get it down there as close as we can and put us in touchdown position; if not, make it as short a field goal as possible,' Peyton Manning said. '(McManus) has been outstanding. He is kicking with a lot of confidence. It's great to have him on the team'." - UPI

September 13, 2015 - Brandon McManus kicks often & long in win over Baltimore
"The Denver kicker, now in his second stint with the Broncos in as many professional seasons, booted field goals from 57, 56, 43 and 33 yards to help the Broncos to a 19-13 win Sunday over the Baltimore Ravens. It was just the second time in NFL history that a kicker made two kicks from at least 56 yards in the same game, the first time since St. Louis Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein did it in 2012. 'Obviously, that’s a random stat kind of dragged out there from the moon,' McManus said. 'I’m just more interested in making the kicks than stats or records at the end of the day. I’m just excited that I started off the season on a good foot'." - Pueblo Chieftain 

August 31, 2015 - punter Spencer Lanning released
"Spencer Lanning was signed two weeks ago as a punter to challenge incumbent Britton Colquitt, but Colquitt will keep his job." - BSN Denver

August 26, 2015 - Brandon McManus wins kicking job, Connor Barth released
"The team released Connor Barth on Wednesday morning, leaving Brandon McManus as the only placekicker on the roster. Barth supplanted McManus on field goals and extra points after 10 games last year following a midseason skid for the then first-year kicker. Barth hit 15 of his 16 field-goal attempts down the stretch, but struggled on kickoffs in his first game as a Bronco, which brought McManus back to the 53-man roster to handle kickoff duties. Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis studied McManus' work in the weeks after he was hired, and felt that his slump was easily explained. 'He's just like any other player -- young,' DeCamillis said Aug. 18. 'Unfortunately, you look at kickers and they should make everything, right, whoever they are. If they haven't done it a bunch yet, they're going to have those hiccups. You have to be able to come back from it and hopefully he did.' As the offseason progressed, DeCamillis consistently stated that he would prefer to only keep one punter and one placekicker, and not carry a kickoff specialist. That loomed over the competition between McManus and Barth and lingered throughout training camp." - Broncos

August 14, 2015 - claim punter Spencer Lanning off waivers
"The Denver Broncos have been awarded punter Spencer Lanning off waivers from Tampa Bay. The Broncos waived punter Karl Schmitz — who was subsequently signed by the Buccaneers — last week to make room for tackle Matt Hall, who elected to retire. Lanning, who will compete with Britton Colquitt, is a third-year pro who appeared in 32 games for the Browns in the past two seasons, posting a 38.6-yard net punting average. He also kicked off 12 times for the Browns." - Idaho Statesman

August 5, 2015 - punter Karl Schmitz released, Connor Barth working on kickoffs
"Three days after punter Britton Colquitt agreed to a reduced salary for 2015, the Broncos waived punter/kicker Karl Schmitz.... Schmitz, a 28-year-old rookie punter who gained a following with his kicks on YouTube, signed with the Broncos in March, but hadn't played a game since 2008. Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis reiterated Tuesday that the team didn't want to keep four players for kickoffs, and with Colquitt having signed a restructured deal, his place appeared to be secure for the season. 'It stresses your roster in other places,' DeCamillis said. 'We want to have a guy that can kick off and kick field goals, or a guy that punts and kicks off.' DeCamillis said kicker , which could make him the dual kickoff/field-goal threat the team is seeking." - Denver Post

August 3, 2015 - punter Britton Colquitt takes pay cut
"Britton Colquitt is no longer the highest-paid punter in the First Family of Fourth Downs. That honor belongs to brother Dustin. Two years after becoming the league's highest-paid punter, Britton agreed to a $1.4 million pay cut from the Denver Broncos. He'll get $1.6 million instead of $3 million. Dustin is making $2.95 million.... Colquitt's production slipped last year, and in the offseason the Broncos brought in kicker/punter Karl Schmitz, a strong-legged 28-year-old from Jacksonville University who hasn't played since 2008. Colquitt's three-year, $11.7 million extension that he signed in 2013 included $3 million up front and averaged $3.9 million a season." - USA Today

March 12, 2015 - punter Karl Schmitz signed
"Karl Schmitz, who grew up in Bermuda and graduated from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2011, has signed with the Broncos, the team announced. 2015 will be his rookie season. He handled punts and kickoffs for Jacksonville University in 2008 before transferring to UMSL, per the team's official website." - Mile High Report

March 5, 2015 - long snapper Aaron Brewer re-signed 
"On Thursday afternoon, the Broncos reached an agreement in principal with longsnapper Aaron Brewer on a four-year contract.... Brewer's deal features a $740,000 signing bonus and makes him the NFL's 11th-highest-paid snapper.... The multiyear deal with Brewer was expected as he was eligible for restricted free agency, where the minimum right of first refusal tender is $1.542 million — or nearly 40 percent greater than what the highest-paid long snapper makes. Brewer, 24, has been the Broncos' longsnapper since 2012." - Denver Post

January 20, 2015 - Joe DeCamillis named special teams coordinator 
"DeCamillis, who is entering his 27th NFL season, has coached special teams for 22 years, most recently with the Chicago Bears from 2013-14. He began his NFL career with Denver in 1988, spending two years in football administration before becoming a defensive quality control coach for the Broncos from 1990-91. During his two seasons in Chicago, DeCamillis’ unit allowed a league-low 18.3 yards per kick return while generating two touchdown returns (1 PR, 1 KR) and three takeaways. Prior to his arrival in Chicago, DeCamillis spent four seasons (2009-12) as special teams coordinator for Dallas, where he oversaw punter Matt McBriar’s Pro Bowl campaign in 2010 (NFL leader in gross/net average – 47.9/41/7). He was named the Cowboys’ Ed Block Courage Award winner in 2009 as voted by his players. DeCamillis, who also coached special teams with Jacksonville (2007-08), Atlanta (1997-2006) and the N.Y. Giants (1993-96), was born on June 29, 1965, in Arvada, Colo." - Broncos

December 31, 2014 - kicker Connor Barth named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month
"This represents the first such honor of his career and the eighth in Broncos history since the award was initiated by the NFL in 1993. Barth made 10-of-11 field goals (90.9%) and all 13 extra point attempts in four games during the month of December. Accounting for 43 points in those contests, Barth recorded two games with at least four field goals made, including a 5-for-5 performance at San Diego in Week 15 to tie the team record for field goals in a single game." - Broncos

December 14, 2014 - another day, another five field goals for Connor Barth
"For now, in the afterglow of a 22-10 win that clinched the Broncos' fourth consecutive AFC West crown, they're happy about extending their division dominance, matching the 1987-90 49ers' league record of road division wins and of crossing off the first item on their 2014 checklist.... And one of the newest Broncos, Connor Barth, ensured that the Broncos got something from their red-zone forays, just like he did against Kansas City two weeks ago. Sunday, Barth matched his 5-for-5 performance on field goals at Arrowhead Stadium. He's racked up 39 points in three weeks with the Broncos -- outscoring the 49ers, Raiders and Browns in that span. No kick had more riding on it than the 49-yard attempt with 4:58 remaining in the game and the Broncos clinging to a six-point lead. A 13-yard Peyton Manning-to-Demaryius Thomas pass on the previous play got the Broncos out of a third-and-20 hole and moved the football to the San Diego 31, turning a punt into a viable shot.
Pressure mounted, and Barth responded. 'That's kind of what we (kickers) live for,' Barth said. He hit one more field goal to cap his perfect afternoon, which stood in contrast to San Diego's Nick Novak, who missed two of three attempts. Novak had a new holder, recently signed punter Mat McBriar, and while Novak refused to blame that for his misses, it usually takes time for a holder and kicker to become comfortable. The emphasis is on 'usually.' That has not been the case for Barth, holder Britton Colquitt and long snapper Aaron Brewer. Barth praised them after his first day of practice, and their timing has only sharpened in the two and a half weeks that followed. 'They're great at their craft,' said Barth. 'I mean, it eases me into it, because I don't have to worry about a ball spinning when I'm looking at it. It's always really good with the laces. And Britton does such a good job getting it down. It's just true professionals. It's an honor to be in the locker room with these guys, and hopefully we'll continue to play well'." - WWAY

December 6, 2104 - Brandon McManus will handle kickoff duties
"Needing greater length on their kickoffs, the Broncos promoted kicker Brandon McManus from their practice squad to 53-man roster Saturday. McManus will kick off in the Broncos’ game Sunday against the Buffalo Bills while Connor Barth will handle the field goal duties. " - Denver Post

December 4, 2014 - kicker Brandon McManus re-signed to practice squad
"Last week, after releasing Brandon McManus, Broncos Head Coach John Fox suggested that the cannon-legged first-year kicker would get another shot at some point. 'He just needs to go back and work on his swing, so to speak, and I think he'll be back,' Fox said. That work will be in Denver, as the Broncos signed McManus to their practice squad Thursday, giving him a chance to develop and, perhaps make another run at the full-time job. When the Broncos waived McManus to make room for Connor Barth, he was deep in a slump that saw him make just five of his last nine field-goal attempts, including a pair of misses in which he hit the upright. But as he struggled on placekicks, he remained among the league's leaders in touchbacks, ranking third in the league with a touchback percentage of 75.0." - Broncos

November 30, 2014 - new kicker Connor Barth ties team record in first game
"Barth made a memorable first impression, tying a franchise record with five field goals in Denver’s 29-16 trouncing of the Kansas City Chiefs. Jason Elam last accomplished the feat in October 2002. Barth wears No. 1, in part, because he grew up idolizing the Broncos great. 'It’s awesome. It’s an honor. I hope I did him proud tonight,' Barth said. 'I haven’t met him. I hope to someday. But hopefully he’s OK with me representing him. That’s all I am trying to do with his number because he was my role model.' Barth joins Elam, Rich Karlis (1983) and Gene Mingo (1963) as Broncos with five field goals. While he lacked distance on his kickoffs, Barth was straight down the fairway on chipshot drives, converting from 22, 24, 30, 33 and 37 yards." - Denver Post

November 25, 2014 - kicker Connor Barth signed, Brandon McManus waived 
"In choosing their next kicker, the Broncos went with experience in one sense, youth in another. Meld them together and Connor Barth is the newest Bronco. A former clutch field-goal kicker with the Tampa Bay Bucs, Barth on Tuesday signed a two-year contract that will keep him with the Broncos through 2016. Barth, 28, was selected over Jay Feely, 38, in a kickoff Tuesday at the Broncos' new indoor field house. The winner was to replace first-year kicker Brandon McManus. Feely went 14-of-15 in field-goal attempts with a long of 60 yards during his audition but was told by the Broncos they wanted to go with the younger option. To make room for Barth, the Broncos waived McManus, the first-year kicker whose fate was sealed when he clanked a 33-yard field goal off the right upright Sunday in a 39-36 win against the Miami Dolphins." - Denver Post 

November 23, 2014 - kicker Brandon McManus mad at himself 
"It hasn't hurt them yet, but the inconsistency of first-year kicker Brandon McManus remains a concern. McManus kicked too low on the ball as his 33-yard field-goal attempt Sunday against the Dolphins was a bit of a popup before it clanked off the right goalpost to spoil the Broncos' second half-opening drive, which lasted 13 plays and nearly seven minutes. 'It's completely inexcusable,' McManus said. 'I was mad at myself after that miss because I knew I had to stay in it because of the game situation we were in. I know my capabilities. I hit the first one good, and I needed to make the second one.' McManus made a 38-yard field goal to finish the Broncos' game-opening drive and was 5-of-7 in kickoff touchbacks." - Denver Post 

November 16, 2014 - Broncos forego long field goal attempts
"The Broncos may still feel strongly about McManus’ potential over the long haul, but presently they are not letting him attempt kicks Prater would have been asked to make. In the 22-7 loss to the St. Louis Rams Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome, the Broncos passed up opportunities for 54- and 55-yard field-goal attempts indoors. Following the game, Fox said he would have let McManus attempt kicks from as far away as the Rams’ 33-yard line. So after watching McManus warm up, the Broncos had capped his game-day range at 50 yards. 'We never got to that range,'’ Fox said following the game. '… I don’t know that was really the difference.' In the first instance, the Rams were holding a 3-0 lead and the Broncos had fourth down on the Rams’ 37-yard line. Instead of attempting a 54-yard field goal, they opted to go for it and did not convert. The Rams connected on a 63-yard touchdown play on the next snap to take a 10-0 lead. In the second instance, on the Broncos’ first possession of the second half and with the Rams leading 13-7, the Broncos sent the punt team out with the ball on the Rams’ 38-yard line. Linebacker Lerentee McCray committed a false start penalty, which moved the ball back to the St. Louis 43-yard line. Britton Colquitt then punted 28 yards to the Rams’ 15-yard line." - ESPN

November 2, 2014 - Britton Colquitt takes blame for punter return TD 
The snap was perfect but the wind was tricky. Britton Colquitt took the snap for granted and may have been thinking a bit too much about how to play the wind. 'I've got to do a better job with ball security and get a clean ball off, get good hang time and give our guys a better chance,' Colquitt said. The Broncos' punter dropped the snap, then rushed his punt a tad and didn't get his usual air under it. But still he booted it 53 yards. And shouldn't a delay from a dropped snap help the punt coverage? Apparently not. There was something counterintuitive about the 84-yard touchdown punt return by New England's Julian Edelman in the second quarter.... Colquitt knew the breakdown started with him. 'The wind was doing its thing and I'm probably instead of thinking of the basics ... you've got to pay more attention to details and I obviously didn't,' Colquitt said." - Denver Post 

November 2, 2014 - kicker Brandon McManus connects with upright
"The Broncos, who released kicker Matt Prater before the season, have first-year former undrafted free agent Brandon McManus doing their kicking. After Edelman’s score, he had a chance to cut into the Patriots lead with a 41-yard field goal. The ball clanged off the right upright. 'I thought I hit the ball well but unfortunately I left it open a little bit, so I didn’t hit it as well as I wanted,' McManus said. 'The wind may have pushed it over there to the upright'." - MetroWest Daily News

October 22, 2014 - kicker Brandon McManus injury update
"McManus, who was held out of Tuesday’s practice because of a groin injury, practiced Wednesday and will kick in Thursday night’s game. Get the latest NFL injury news NFLWho's out? Who's good to go? Who's questionable? We've got all the latest injury news from around the NFL. Injury Wire McManus’ injury is to his kicking leg and he has appeared on the Broncos’ injury report since Oct. 1. The Broncos had held McManus out of practice one day last week as well." - ESPN

October 3, 2014 - kicker Matt Prater released
"This was the Broncos — a team with Super Bowl-or-bust aspirations and a 38-year-old star quarterback — who essentially fired Matt Prater on Friday, three days before he was to be reinstated from his four-game suspension. 'I'm a little surprised,' Prater said from Florida. 'The Broncos look like they're going to do some great things this year. It's too bad I won't be a part of it'.... McManus didn't arrive in Denver conceding the job to Prater after four games. But he was a bit surprised the Broncos made their decision before his fourth game audition against Arizona. 'Yes, I am. Matt had a great year last year,' McManus said. 'He's done very well for himself. I still consider him a top three kicker in the NFL so it's a chance the Broncos are giving me, it shows the confidence they have in me and I'm excited for that opportunity.' The Broncos chose to release Prater on Friday to protect themselves against the league's termination rules. Waiting to release Prater after the Broncos' game Sunday could have subjected the team to paying the rest of his $2.117 million salary this season. The tiebreaker between Prater and McManus may have been an issue of trust. Prater was suspended after he tested positive for alcohol during the offseason. One more similar infraction would have meant a one-year suspension.... Broncos coach John Fox said keeping McManus instead of Prater 'was a football decision.' He also admitted the team took a 'leap of faith' by keeping McManus. 'He's good,' punter Britton Colquitt said of McManus. 'We've seen him in practice. I guess it got to the point where they've seen enough in the game and they've seen a lot in practice. He's real consistent and has a really strong leg'." - Denver Post 

September 8, 2014 - long snapper Kevin McDermott released
"The Broncos released long snapper Kevin McDermott from their practice squad. He was the San Francisco 49ers' long snapper last year and was brought in last week to compete with Aaron Brewer. Brewer apparently won the right to keep his job. " - Daily Camera 

September 2, 2014 - long snapper Kevin McDermott signed to practice squad 
"McDermott is considered one of the best pure snappers in the league. He snapped every game for the San Francisco 49ers last season and was a surprise cut last week, beaten out by Kyle Nelson, who doubles as a fourth tight end. The new practice squad rules made McDermott eligible despite playing in 19 games, counting playoffs last season. McDermott worked out Monday with the New England Patriots, then Tuesday morning with the Broncos. McDermott likely will compete this week with Aaron Brewer, who has been the Broncos' longsnapper the past two years." - Denver Post 

August 30, 2014 - kicker Brandon McManus remains
After a whirlwind arrival to the Denver Broncos, which saw Brandon McManus kicking field goals for the team just two days after being acquired by the team, the Broncos have decided to keep McManus around for a bit. The Broncos worked out another kicker Saturday -- former Washington State kicker Andrew Furney -- but when the initial cut to 53 players was made, McManus was still the kicker tabbed to fill in for Matt Prater." - ESPN

August 28, 2014 - kicker Brandon McManus debuts
"Rookie place-kicker Brandon McManus remains a possibility to replace the suspended Matt Prater, but cracked the door open for the Broncos to bring in competition this week. McManus missed 52- and 54-yard field goals, which Prater has made a career of converting. McManus nailed a 20-yarder and 39-yarder. His six kickoffs were touchbacks, bringing his total to 16-of-17 this preseason." - Longmont Times Call

August 26, 2014 - Mitch Ewald waived, more on Brandon McManus
"The rookie from Indiana saw Tuesday that he wasn't in the Broncos' plans. They released him after acquiring first-year kicker Brandon McManus from the New York Giants for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2015. Ewald was unimpressive at Broncos camp, never quite finding a rhythm at altitude despite working alongside Prater, whom he studied while in college.... Josh Brown had high praise for McManus, who scored a school-record 338 points at Temple and was in the Colts training camp last season. 'He's one of those guys that's going to be a lifer,' Brown said. 'He's going to be a 10-year guy, easily. He's got that kind of talent and he's got that kind of head on his shoulders.' For now, the Broncos plan to use McManus only until Prater returns in early October. Because the Broncos have their bye in Week 4, Prater won't be allowed to practice with the team until Oct. 6 in advance of their game against the Jets. The Broncos decided to go with a youngster rather than an experienced kicker such as Jay Feely, who was released by the Cardinals this week. A vested veteran would put the Broncos on the hook for his entire 2014 salary even if he's only around for the first four games." -  Indy Star 

August 26, 2014 - kicker Brandon McManus acquired in trade with Giants
"With Matt Prater's four-game regular-season suspension looming, Denver acquired New York Giants' kicker Brandon McManus for a conditional seventh-round draft pick, according to an NFL source. Denver moved quickly before McManus was placed on waivers, working a deal as multiple teams were expected to place a claim on the former Temple product, including the Eagles. The Giants' Josh Brown beat out McManus, despite McManus' strong preseason. McManus, 23, made both field goal attempts (46 and 47 yards) and 10 of his 11 kickoffs were touchbacks. The Broncos are expected to give Indiana rookie Mitch Ewald a look Thursday in the final preseason game. He missed his only field-goal attempt last week. Ewald admitted Monday that 'at the end of the day, there's an opening there. Is it for me? Who knows? It might be. And it might be for someone else. I have to just keep working hard.' The conditional pick means the Broncos might not surrender anything if McManus doesn't make the final 53-man roster which is set on Saturday. McManus fits the profile for what the Broncos were seeking, a young kicker with a big leg capable of handling kickoffs." - Denver Post 

August 23, 2014 - kicker Matt Prater suspended first four games
"Prater will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season for a violation of the NFL's substance-abuse program, multiple team sources confirmed following the team's 18-17 preseason loss to the Houston Texans. Prater, who has been in the league's program since an August 2011 DUI arrest, acknowledged the suspension to the Broncos and confirmed the four games to The Denver Post on Saturday night before he left Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The suspension is alcohol-related, according to the newspaper.... rater played in Saturday night's game, making a 32-yard field goal and missing a 49-yard attempt.... The Broncos will give the waiver wire a close look in the coming days and do have a rookie in training camp, Mitch Ewald. Ewald missed his only attempt Saturday night -- a 36-yarder that he pushed left. Prater's suspension is for four games, so, because of the Broncos' bye in Week 4, he wouldn't be eligible to return until the Monday before the Broncos face the New York Jets on Oct. 12 at MetLife Field." - ESPN

July 23, 2014 - kicker Mitch Ewald signed
"Ewald played 48 games for Indiana University and is the program’s all-time leader in field goals (53), field goal percentage (80.3%) and extra points (161). During his four seasons with the Hoosiers, he hit 53-of-66 field goals (80.3%) and 161-of-162 (99.4%) extra points. He ranks second in school history with 320 points scored." - Broncos

June 13, 2014 - kicker Matt Prater healthy again
"At long last, the best place-kicker in football is feeling like himself again. Matt Prater, who set NFL records last year with a 64-yard field goal and 81 touchbacks, caught a debilitating virus in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. Then he started the offseason with a stitched lip from a golfing accident (he caught a backswing while delivering instruction) and a personal medical issue that caused him to miss some of the Broncos' organized team activity (OTA) sessions. 'I feel great now,' Prater said. 'I'm happy to be out here and kicking and getting to know all the new faces. Team looks good. I'm not getting younger. I'm actually one of the oldest guys on the team now. Which is crazy'." - Denver Post 

June 4, 2014 - kicker Matt Prater returns to practice
"Whatever it was, it apparently wasn’t that serious. Broncos kicker Matt Prater was back with the team Tuesday and Wednesday and participated in the closed offseason team activity (OTA) practices. Prater had missed the first four OTA sessions because of a personal medical issue." - Denver Post

May 19, 2014 - punter Steven Clark released
"On Monday, the team announced six transactions to reach the offseason roster limit.... In addition, defensive end John Youboty (Achilles) was designated as waived/injured, while defensive tackle Mister Cobble and punter Steven Clark were waived." - Broncos

May 10, 2014 - punter Steven Clark signed
"Steven Clark was not drafted, but the former Auburn punter will still get a shot in the NFL. Despite being ranked as one of the top punters in the draft class, Clark had to wait and sign a deal in free agency with the Denver Broncos, he confirmed to Early reports had Clark agreeing to a deal with the Miami Dolphins, but Clark confirmed to at the time he was still weighing his options. He agreed to a deal with the Broncos an hour later." -
See Clark's profile here.  

May 10, 2014 - long snapper Tanner Hedstrom to tryout
"Tanner Hedstrom, CSU's long-snapper, also will get a shot with the Broncos during a rookie minicamp that begins Thursday, he said....  Hedstrom doesn't yet have a contract with the Broncos but hopes to earn one with his performance in the minicamp. The 6-1, 230-pound Fort Collins native has been the Rams' long-snapper for the past 3½ seasons and had the opportunity to showcase his skills in an all-star game after the season, the Medal of Honor Bowl in Charleston, South Carolina. Hedstrom said Broncos' long-snapper Aaron Brewer is one of the best in the business, and he hopes he gets the chance to compete with him during training camp. ' feel like I'm at least ready to compete with somebody at an elite level,' Hedstrom said. 'I'm feeling pretty confident right now, and hopefully I can prove that I can be the guy'." - Coloradoan

May 6, 2014 - Gene Mingo added to Ring of Fame
"Until Tuesday, just one player known mostly for his special-teams work was in the Ring of Fame: kicker Jim Turner. Rick Upchurch and Gene Mingo change that. Students of the history of the Broncos and pro football should always have a place of affection for Mingo. He scored the winning touchdown in the first game in AFL history, racing 76 yards with a punt return in the third quarter of a 13-10 win over the Boston Patriots. But Mingo was also the placekicker, the role for which he would be best known, and before he caught his breath, he had to line up for the kick. As he would later recall, 'I kicked this big divot; my leg was so dead'. But in the years that followed, Mingo had no such worries. Pro football's first African-American kicker became one of its best, leading the AFL in field-goal percentage in 1960 and 1964 and in total points in 1960 and 1962. His 137-point season in 1962 was a Broncos record until Terrell Davis amassed 138 points on 23 touchdowns in 1998 -- but took two more games than Mingo had to do it. Mingo's return at Boston was the first of 12 touchdowns he would score for the Broncos in four-plus seasons; he added eight rushing and three receiving. 'You know, what people said – for what I did with the Broncos, being the first black field goal kicker, scoring the winning touchdown against New England, leading the league in scoring, still hold the longest touchdown run from scrimmage -- they were questioning why wasn’t I one of the original ones going into the Ring of Fame. And, I couldn’t tell them,' he said." - Broncos

Detroit Lions Kicker, Punter & Snapper News

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October 18, 2015 - Matt Prater kicks OT game winner over Chicago
"Matt Prater kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2:29 left in overtime, and the Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears 37-34 on Sunday for their first victory of the season. Matthew Stafford heaved a 57-yard pass to Calvin Johnson to set up the kick for the Lions (1-5). Johnson finished with six receptions for 166 yards. The Bears (2-4) had chances for a third straight comeback win. Chicago's Robbie Gould kicked a 29-yard field goal as time expired in regulation." - WGN

May 2, 2015 - kicker Kyle Brindza signed
Undrafted kicker Kyle Brindza out of Notre Dame was signed following the draft.

March 6, 2015 - kicker Matt Prater signed to 3-year deal
"The Lions announced a three-year deal with Prater Friday morning. The NFL Network reports the deal is worth $9 million. Prater, 30, said after the season he'd "love" to return to the Lions and finish his career in Detroit. He was glad the team gave him a chance after his time in rehab for alcohol addiction and always considered Jason Hanson one of his best mentors." - Detroit News

February 27, 2015 - long snapper Don Muhlbach re-signed
"The Lions and veteran long snapper Don Muhlbach have come to terms on a new one-year contract for the 2015 season. Muhlbach, who was a Pro Bowler in 2012, has spent his entire career in Detroit and will play his 12th season in the NFL in 2015. He is steady when it comes to long snapping, and the velocity and precision in which he snaps the football has often been an unnoticed weapon for Detroit's special teams unit for a decade now." - Lions

February 7, 2015 - Joe Marciano hired as special teams coordinator
"He replaces John Bonamego, who reportedly will accept the Central Michigan head coaching position. Marciano has spent the past 29 years coaching special teams in the league, dating to a spell with the Saints from 1986-95. He moved onto the Buccaneers from 1996-2001. Current Lions head coach Jim Caldwell was also on Tampa's 2001 staff under Tony Dungy. When Dungy (and Caldwell) left for Indianapolis after that season, Marciano joined the newly founded Houston Texans. He was fired late in the 2013 season, then spent 2014 as the Vikings' interim special teams coordinator while Mike Priefer missed time due to the Chris Kluwe situation." - MLive

December 14, 2014 - Matt Prater kicks winning points against Vikings
"Blair Walsh's kick came up short and wide to the left, and Detroit held on for a 16-14 victory over Minnesota.Matt Prater's 33-yard field goal with 3:38 remaining gave the Lions their first lead of the game, and Detroit withstood two more tense possessions for the Vikings.... Prater's field goal made it 14-10 at halftime. Prater, who helped stabilize Detroit's terrible kicking game when he joined the Lions in October, connected from 30 yards in the third quarter to cut the deficit to one. Jones' block in the fourth meant Detroit only needed a field goal to take the lead." - NFL

October 26, 2014 - Matt Prater misses, then makes game winner over Atlanta
"For a second consecutive week, Detroit delivered a stirring fourth-quarter comeback, this time erasing a 21-0 deficit with 22 unanswered points in a 22-21 win Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons in London. The Lions' woeful kicking game nearly cost them again, with Matt Prater missing the would-be game-winner as time was expiring. But he was saved by a delay of game penalty, and then converted a 48-yarder to win the game on the second chance.... Prater missed wide right, which would have sent Detroit reeling. But as Atlanta fans celebrated here at Wembley, refs called a delay of game penalty that gave Prater another chance to break their hearts." - MLive

October 16, 2014 - Matt Prater familiarizing himself with Ford Field
"Matt Prater last kicked at Ford Field in a preseason game in 2006 with the Lions, when he nailed a 28-yarder to conclude the scoring in a 20-13 win over Denver. That was more than eight years ago, so Prater plans on familiarizing himself with Ford Field on Thursday. 'I’m going to go (Thursday) because I haven’t been there in eight years, just get a feel for the turf,' Prater said. 'They redid the turf since I was here. Just get a feel of the stadium, see where the clocks are and everything.' Will he do any kicking? 'I might kick,' he said. 'I’ll be kicking field goals today here (in Allen Park), and depending on how that period goes, (will decide) whether I’ll kick. The only thing I want to do really is feel the field with the cleats on and see how it feels and get a feel for the stadium because I haven’t been there in so long'." - Lions

October 12, 2014 - Matt Prater misses two field goals in debut
Matt Prater was hailed as the savior of the Detroit Lions' dismal kicking game, but the 2013 Pro Bowler missed two of his three field-goal attempts in his debut, a 17-3 road win over the Minnesota Vikings. He sent a 50-yard boot wide left in the second quarter and clanged a 44-yard effort off the left upright in the third frame. Sandwiched between the two misses, Prater converted his longest attempt of the day, knocking it down from 52 yards out. Following the game, Lions coach Jim Caldwell expressed the utmost confidence in the team's newest addition. 'I think wind, like we had today, you're going to have an issue,' Caldwell said. 'He kicked a 52-yarder, which was great, and we have all the confidence in world in him. The guy has a great track record. We feel good about him.' Prater agreed the wind, announced at 17 miles per hour at kickoff, was a factor. He also acknowledged that there may have been some rust after not kicking in a game since the preseason, but he didn't want to make excuses for the misses. 'If they send me out there, I'm supposed to make them,' he said. 'I'm upset with my performance today, but I'm glad we got the win.' Prater confirmed the snap and hold were good on the errant kicks, he just pulled both efforts." - MLive

October 7, 2014 - Matt Prater the next kicker
"The Detroit Lions have found their third kicker of the season. The Lions are signing former Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater to a one-year deal over former Arizona Cardinals kicker Jay Feely after the two tried out for the team Tuesday, according to league sources. Prater, Feely and former Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth were all part of a kicker tryout in Allen Park, Michigan to replace Alex Henery, who was cut Monday after missing three field goals on Sunday during a 17-14 loss to Buffalo. Prater, who made 25-of-26 field goals last season for the Broncos, was available after he was released by Denver last week after coming off a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy." - ESPN

October 6, 2014 - kicker Alex Henery released
"The Detroit Lions don't have a new kicker in place just yet, but they have already released Alex Henery. Jim Caldwell broke the news of Henery's release during his Monday press conference, and he made it clear that the kicking game is something the Lions have to get fixed going forward.... With the Lions now set to have their third different kicker this season, they have scheduled a workout for Tuesday, according to Dave Birkett. It's unclear how many kickers have been invited to the workout." - Pride of Detroit 
Postscript: Matt Prater, Connor Barth & Jay Feely to be worked out.

October 5, 2014 - kicker Alex Henery takes the blame for three misses
"Detroit Lions kicker Alex Henery shouldered all the blame after he let his team down by missing three field goals, including a crucial 50-yarder with 26 seconds left, in a 17-14 loss today to the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. 'I think I blame myself,' he said. 'As a man, I should stand up and I'm the one kicking the ball. So, as the kicker, I've got to make those kicks. And I'm not looking to blame anyone else.' Henery missed two field goals from 44 yards, with one clanking off the right goal post. He also missed one from 50 yards with the scored tied at 14 when he mishit the ball. 'I just hit a lot of ground,' he said, 'and when you do that on a long one like that it's going to show. It did.' Coach Jim Caldwell said he would reevaluate Henery's job. He wouldn't say if he was committed to sticking with Henery, who replaced struggling rookie kicker Nate Freese two weeks ago. 'This is the big leagues, plain and simple,' Caldwell said. After the game, Henery stood at his locker ready for the barrage of questions about his poor performance in two weeks. He was 1-for-2 in his first game with Lions last week at New York. After missing three kicks Sunday, he's conversion rate dropped to 1-for-5." - Detroit Free Press

September 22, 2014 - kicker Alex Henery signed, Nate Freese released
"The Detroit Lions tried to fill their vacant kicker position in the 2014 NFL Draft, with the 7th round selection of Nate Freese. The Boston College kicker 70 for 81 for field goals in his career, and 111 for 114 in extra points. But so far in his professional career, Freese is just 3 for 7 in field goals and has missed a field goal in all three games this season. On Monday morning, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported that the team will released Freese, and plan to bring in Alex Henery to be their next kicker. Henery was the kicker for the Philadelphia Eagles for three seasons." - WDFN

September 21, 2014 - Lions analyzing kicking again
"Nate Freese's job may be in real jeopardy. The Detroit Lions rookie kicker has struggled through the first three weeks of his NFL career, making only 3 of 7 field goals -- and going 0-of-4 from 40 yards or longer. The concerns elevated again Sunday, when Freese missed a 41-yard field goal wide left at the end of the first half of the Lions' 19-7 win over Green Bay and the miss did not look particularly close. For the second straight week, Lions coach Jim Caldwell also appeared noncommittal to Freese after the game. 'We have to evaluate and see where we are and see what the situation is,' Caldwell said. 'We'll do that pretty shortly'." - ESPN

September 17, 2014 - Nate Freese remains the kicker
"Freese missed a 43-yard field goal in a Week 1 win over the New York Giants and two 49-yarders in a Week 2 loss to the Carolina Panthers. The Lions responded to the early struggles by bringing in three veteran kickers — Alex Henery, Garrett Hartley and Rob Bironas — for a workout Tuesday, according to ESPN. But on Wednesday, Caldwell said, 'Yes,' when asked if Freese will be the kicker when the Lions host the Green Bay Packers at 1 p.m. Sunday at Ford Field. 'At this point in time, he is our guy,' Caldwell said. 'He’s, I think, a young guy who has potential, but just like anything else in our business, it’s a performance business. And we all certainly understand that, and he understands it as well'." - Detroit News

September 15, 2014 - the day after, still analyzing
"A day later, though, Caldwell didn’t give Freese a ringing endorsement, either. 'We’re still discussing, talking, looking at different options,' Caldwell said Monday. 'I still believe this young man is going to be a fine kicker in this league. I don’t think there is any question about that. We’ll see how it goes here but I still believe, you look at him, he had three kicks of 50 yards plus in the preseason, so you know he can get it out there. Sometimes guys just have a bad day, but we’ll look at that.' Caldwell declined to say whether the team will audition kickers this week.... As the Lions decide what to do with Freese, they are also working on trying to figure out what his struggles are. 'We don’t analyze it any differently than any other position when you have some mistakes and problems you need to get corrected,' Caldwell said. 'We try to look at those from a technical standpoint. We try to look at all the variables just to make sure we narrow it down and see if we can solve the problem. Take a look at what the problem was, what caused the problem and how do we go about correcting it'." - ESPN

September 14, 2014 - kicker Nate Freese misses twice
"Jim Caldwell wasn't ready to make a snap decision on kicker Nate Freese's future following the Detroit Lions' 24-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers, but the coach kept the door in regards to making a change at the spot. Freese, a rookie out of Boston College, missed two field goals, both from 49 yards, and has shanked three of his five attempts this season. 'We won't make any rash decisions, right now, five minutes after the game, 10 minutes after the game,' Caldwell said. 'We want to take a look at all of our options and see where we'd like to go from here.' Even though the team wasn't ready to make an immediate decision on Freese's status, Caldwell made it clear the Lions expect much better results from the kicking game. 'One of the things that we have as a goal is to make 100 percent of our kicks,' Caldwell said. 'Obviously, every once in a while, you have a long kick that's an extenuating circumstance. I think that's an area we have to be able to count on'." - MLive

September 1, 2014 - depth chart
"Punter Sam Martin, as expected, will handle kickoff duties instead of field-goal kicker Nate Freese." - The Detroit News

August 25, 2014 - kicker Giorgio Tavecchio waived, Nate Freese wins job
"Tavecchio's release means that the Lions have picked Nate Freese to be their kicker. Freese and Tavecchio were quite even throughout the preseason, and by all accounts Tavecchio had actually been more consistent during training camp. In the end, though, the Lions opted to hang on to Freese, their seventh-round pick this year." - Pride of Detroit

August 22, 2014 - third preseason game
Kickers Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio didn’t get a lot of action in this one. In fact, Tavecchio had the only field goal attempt of the night. He missed it from 51 yards in the waning moments of the game. Caldwell has said all along this competition is a marathon, not a sprint, but missing a 51-yarder indoors didn’t look so good after Freese hit one from 55 yards outdoors from the dirt of O.Co Stadium in Oakland last week. The edge might be tipping in Freese’s favor. 'It’s one of those things we’ve been constantly evaluating, this is not the first opportunity to evaluate,' Caldwell said after the game. 'We’ve been doing that all along. It’s been a close race but we’ll see how that goes'.” - Lions

August 19, 2014 - kicking switch-up
"The Detroit Lions will look a little different this week when their kickers step on the field. For the first time this preseason, punter Sam Martin will likely handle some of the kickoff duties as he competes to hold on to that job along with his already-secure status as the team’s punter. Lions coach Jim Caldwell said Tuesday he has liked how both field goal kicking candidates – Giorgio Tavecchio and Nate Freese – have handled that spot as well. The bigger wrinkle is how he’s going to handle Tavecchio and Freese during the game. In the first two games, Freese has been the kicker for the first half and Tavecchio the second half. Now, he is going to a rotational system for Friday’s game against Jacksonville. One player will take one kick. The next player will take the next kick and so on and so forth." - ESPN

August 15, 2014 - second preseason game
"In the kicking competition, rookie Nate Freese made a 55-yard field goal off the stadium’s infield dirt, but missed a 33-yard extra point off the right upright. Giorgio Tavecchio, who’s competing with Freese for the kicking job, made his only field goal of the night from 25 yards." - Detroit Free Press

August 13, 2014 - kicking competition
"Kickers Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio were put in such a spot during Wednesday's practice. The schedule called for a “kicking competition” at practice, but neither Freese nor Tavecchio knew exactly what that meant. It turns out they’d be kicking with the entire team surrounding them while yelling and taunting them.... Freese and Tavecchio rotated kicks from 36, 45, 54, 62 and 67 yards. Freese made his attempts from 45 and 54 and missed from 36, 62 and 67. Tavecchio made his kicks from 36, 45 and 54 and missed the last two from 62 and 67, though the 67-yard attempt looked to be only a yard or two short." - Lions

August 9, 2014 - first preseason game
"Nate Freese made both of his field goals in the first half, although both were somewhat chip shots -- 33 and 37 yards. Meanwhile, Giorgio Tavecchio made the game-winning extra point. Freese and Tavecchio also handled kickoffs as the Lions try to keep Sam Martin's leg as fresh as possible for the season." - ESPN

August 4, 2014 - kicking competition
"Nate Freese missed two more kicks on Monday, badly shanking a 39-yard attempt and pushing a 48-yard effort with plenty of distance wide right. Freese's primary competition, Giorgio Tavecchio, was perfect once again, and hasn't missed since the first day of camp. 'It's never one of those situations where we strictly look at because a guy was drafted or not drafted is how you judge him,' coach Jim Caldwell said. 'What we're going to try to do is get the best player out there playing for us to give us the best chance to win. And we don't care where he came from, who he is. We're just looking for results and that's what counts.' Freese has taken all the first-team reps at this stage, but Tavecchio has clearly outperformed the seventh-round draft choice. While practice success will carry plenty of weight in the final decision, Caldwell reminded reporters it's not the only factor in the competition. 'You like data, you like hard, firm data,' Caldwell said. 'You like to try and challenge them in a number of different situations, so you really get a good feel of what he's capable of doing. But we're looking at results, more so than anything else'." -  MLive

August 2, 2014 - scrimmage
"The first-team offense scored on two of its four drives.... The other score was a 47-yard field goal by rookie kicker Nate Freese. In addition to Freese’s field goal, Giorgio Tavecchio hit a 50-yarder." - The Detroit News

August 1, 2014 - kicking competition
"The field goal kickers rebounded in a big way. Both Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio converted all on five of their attempts, including a pair of blasts easily clearing the cross bar from 53 yards out. " - MLive 

July 31, 2014 - punter Sam Martin an option on long field goals
"Nate Freese nor Giorgio Tavecchio has separated himself from the other so far in camp. That wouldn’t be a problem if it was because both have been impressive, but that hasn’t been the case. Both have suffered from inconsistency and though Freese likely has the advantage due to being drafted in the seventh round last May, concerns about his leg strength appear well-founded. If Freese can at least show the high level of consistency that helped make him a Lions draft pick – he didn’t miss a kick as a senior at Boston College – then the Lions may be able to live with the limited range. Why? Because they have another option. Punter Sam Martin. Via the Detroit Free Press: 'Martin also said there’s a possibility he could be used on longer field-goal attempts. He lacks consistency as a placekicker, but he has plenty of power.' Martin showed plenty of power in winning kickoff duties last season, a role he’s expected to keep no matter who ends up as the kicker on the final roster." - Side Lion Report

July 25, 2014 - punter Drew Butler signed
"Butler played for the Steelers in 2012, averaging 43.8 yards per punt. Last season, he broke camp with the Steelers, but was cut before the first game in favor of former Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko. He signed an future/reserve contract with the Bears at the end of December, but was released in May." - Detroit Free Press

June 27, 2014 - kicking competition
"Nate Freese, a seventh-round pick from Boston College, remains the favorite over Giorgio Tavecchio, who went undrafted out of Cal in 2012, but the competition will likely continue through training camp and into the exhibition games.... 'It’s good so far,' Freese said Tuesday at the NFL Rookie Symposium in Berea, Ohio. 'I’m glad that there’s some competition. Competition makes everyone better.' But Freese also said he’s not approaching the competition as a simple head-to-head with Tavecchio. 'I have more of a competition with myself,' he said. 'I see it in that sense, but if I go out there and do what I need to do every day, I should be OK.' Freese said he and Tavecchio have gotten along well in their nearly two months together in Detroit. They’re the only specialists competing for a job, with punter Sam Martin and long snapper Don Muhlbach cemented in their roles." - Detroit News

June 17, 2014 - minicamp kicking update
"Nate Freese's kicks were more difficult to judge last week during minicamp, when the team moved to its outdoor practice field, but he said he kicked much better. He attributed his successes to establishing a more comfortable pace with long-snapper Don Muhlbach and holder Sam Martin. 'Just getting used to everything,' Freese said. 'Not really technique. Just getting used to their rhythm on the snap and hold, and when I should leave my approach and whatnot.' Giorgio Tavecchio, meanwhile, trended the other way. The Italian appeared to be Detroit's best kicker during OTAs, including nailing a 56-yarder -- with room to spare -- during that special teams session. But he was more erratic during minicamp. 'I'm furious, because that was probably my worst day in my professional life,' Tavecchio told after Day 1 of minicamp. 'But the show must go on. Keep working and keep moving forward'." - MLive

June 12, 2014 - punter Sam Martin working on consistency
"But when Martin went back and looked at the film after the season, there were some things that concerned him. 'I noticed lots of times, no matter what the result of the punt was, good punt or bad punt, my technique oftentimes would deviate between punts,' he said. 'Even if I hit a good ball sometimes I wouldn’t like my follow through. So the big focus was just getting more technically sound and repeating the same thing over and over.' That’s been the main focus in practice through the offseason training program, OTAs and minicamp, and Martin says he’s seeing results. 'It’s resulted, at least from what I’ve seen so far, in a lot more control of my directional punts,' he said. 'I’m putting punts a lot closer to the sideline consistently and I’m just more comfortable'.” - Lions

May 29, 2014 - OTA's kicking update
"The battle to be the Lions starting kicker continues. Rookie Nate Freese missed from 46 and 48-yards out. Meanwhile, kicker Giorgio Tavecchio was four-for-four, including a 56-yarder." - Detroit Sports 1051

May 27, 2014 - punter Sam Martin prepares for long season
"Martin, a fifth-round pick last year, rewarded the Lions' faith in him. He was among the five best punters in the league for much of last season. But all that work also took a toll. He became more inconsistent during the second half of last season. He battled a groin injury, which was known, and also back pain, which was not.... Martin says he's better prepared for the rigors of the NFL as he enters his sophomore season with the Lions. That starts with technique. He has modified his punt and kickoff motions to make them less violent. That should diminish the toll on his body over the long haul. 'I'm just a little more technically sound now,' he said. 'I've sacrificed a little torque -- violent movement -- but the ball is still going as far, and it's not as hard on my body.' Martin also has emphasized rest this offseason, which has helped to rejuvenate his leg strength. While he wasn't punting, he was maintaining his body through yoga, massages and a functional core/mobility routine that is designed to stabilize his back. 'Stuff that will be able to help me kick late into December, January -- even February -- without breaking down,' Martin said." - MLive

May 19, 2014 - kickoff competition
"[Nate Freese]'s expected to challenge Sam Martin for kickoff duties as well. 'I think it's a competition right now,' Freese said Sunday after wrapping up rookie camp in Allen Park. 'Obviously it's Sam's job, but whoever is hitting them best in camp I think they might go with'. Martin was in a similar position last year, after the Lions took him in the fifth round out of Appalachian State. He was immediately slotted as the starting punter, but also expected to challenge veteran David Akers for kickoff duties. He won that job and had some success early in the season. He finished seventh in the league with an average of 69.7 yards per attempt, according to ProFootballFocus, and didn't allow a return 58.6 percent of the time. That ranked 16th. Martin ceded those duties to Akers late in the season, as his leg tired from the long draft process and season. Though he's the favorite to reclaim the job this year, there's another challenger he will have to beat out. 'I want it just as much as he does, you know?' Freese said. 'But it's a competition. We'll see what happens'. Freese generated touchbacks 69.9 percent of the time last year with Boston college, which ranked fourth in the country, and averaged 64.2 yards per kickoff. That was sixth -- and he thinks there's still some untapped juice in that big right leg." - MLive

May 18, 2014 - Nate Freese consults Jason Hanson
"Speaking of Jason Hanson, he's been helping the Lions kickers at times this offseason, and was at this weekend’s rookie minicamp helping out Freese for the first time. 'I just kind of picked his brain,' Freese said of working with Hanson. 'What did you do your first minicamp? How did you handle yourself? What’s your routine? Just little things like that.' Freese said Hanson told him he did a good job, which is a good start to his NFL career.... 'Now, in terms of going with a young kicker, I’ve been there before,' head coach Jim Caldwell said. 'A couple years ago with Baltimore we had a young guy that kicked pretty well as a first-year kicker.' Caldwell was referring to Justin Tucker, who was undrafted in 2012 and made the Pro Bowl last year. 'We anticipate that Nate’s (Freese) going to just continue to develop and be very, very good at what he’s doing,' Caldwell said." - Lions

May 13, 2014 - kicker John Potter released
"Potter, 24, suggested his departure from the Detroit organization was a result of the Lions not wanting to have more than two kickers on its expanded 90-man roster and that Tavecchio, who spent time in the Green Bay Packers training camp in 2013, and seventh round draft pick Nate Freese were the two choices. 'I think they wanted to stick with two kickers,' Potter said. 'Giorgio kicked better than me in the first couple weeks, so I’m not surprised with the decision. I would have liked to have a few more weeks, because my field goals had been getting better'.... Just hours after his release, Potter already had a plan in place for moving forward. He said he will continue to train in the Detroit area for the time being and had a kicking coach lined up in Chicago he would be working with." - Mlive

May 13, 2014 - punter Nick Liste invited to minicamp
“I thought I was done, to be honest,' said Liste, a Niles High graduate who was first team all-conference punter at Youngstown State last season. 'But I was holding out hope. I do understand teams are not necessarily going after kickers and punters first when it comes to free agency. I thought maybe I could still get a shot down the line.' Then, on Monday morning, Liste got a call from his agent. The Detroit Lions were inviting him to Friday’s rookie minicamp. True, the Lions already had a good ex-FCS punter in Sam Martin, who Detroit selected in the fifth round of last year’s draft out of Appalachian State, but it was an opportunity.
That’s all Liste wanted. 'Obviously I’m looking to do the best I can,' he said. 'No matter what happens, I’ll get my foot in the door and that’s really what I’m hoping to do. If I can get on film, maybe other teams will get it too'.” - The Vindicator

May 12, 2014 - kicker Nate Freese inside & out
"The past four years I've been in Boston under not ideal situations,' Freese said. 'The stadium is really windy and cold, so I'm really excited to be playing indoors.' The conditions in Boston should prepare Freese for the blustery, inclement, and sometimes downright frigid conditions he'll face during annual road games in Chicago and Green Bay. Last season, the Lions drafted punter Sam Martin, another under-the-radar special teams talent. After a couple months working with Detroit special teams coordinator John Bonamego, Martin was able to improve his distance and consistency. General manager Martin Mayhew is confident Bonamego will be able to do the same for Freese. 'Bono (John Bonamego) will get working on his technique and stuff, so we'll see how he does,' Mayhew said. 'He's been very consistent and very accurate. He has not been a guy that's booming 58-yard field goals, but these guys develop over time and mature. We'll see how strong his leg gets when he gets here.' Freese will take the field as a member of the Lions for the first time during the team's rookie minicamp, which gets underway on Friday." - MLive

May 10, 2014 - kicker Nate Freese drafted
With the 14th pick of the 7th round in the NFL Draft, the Lions selected Boston College kicker Nate Freese. See his profile here.
"When Day 3 of the NFL draft kicked off around lunchtime today, Nate Freese had no expectation of being drafted. By dinner, he was a Detroit Lion. The Lions used their final pick of the draft, No. 229 overall, to take Freese, a kicker from Boston College. 'Going into it, not really,' Freese said when asked if he expected to be drafted. 'I had heard some teams were interested, but I was expecting whatever. But I think it’s pretty awesome that it happened.' Freese is the first kicker the Lions have drafted since they traded up to take Jason Hanson in the second round of the 1992 draft.... General manager Martin Mayhew said the Lions thought about taking Freese with their sixth-round pick, and were pleasantly surprised when he was still on the board at pick No. 229. 'He kicked outside his whole career,' Mayhew said. 'I think he’ll be great in our division. Didn’t miss a field goal last year. I think he missed two in 2012, I think. But very accurate guy. Very consistent'.” - Detroit Free Press

April 24, 2014 - kicking consultant Jason Hanson
"Hanson is spending time with young kickers in what amounts to free-lance consulting in this week’s veteran mini-camp in Allen Park. Hanson, who retired before last season after 21 seasons with the Lions, said he was invited to mini-camp by John Bonamego, who is beginning his second season as special-teams coordinator. Hanson’s presence was obvious Wednesday during the portion of practice that was open to the media. 'He (Bonamego) just wanted another set of eyes for the guys they want to kick,' Hanson said in a telephone interview from his home Wednesday evening. 'He wanted my opinion – somebody else to give feedback to him. They have a short time to look at the guys, to see if they feel they have the guys they want or if they want to look at other people'.... John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio, who have combined for four field-goal attempts – all by Potter – are the only kickers on the roster. Both were signed in the offseason, and Potter is the only one who has kicked in a regular-season NFL game." - Lions

April 15, 2014 - kicker Nate Freese visits
"The Lions also brought in Boston College kicker Nate Freese, one day after special teams coordinator John Bonamego outlined finding David Akers' replacement as a top offseason priority. Highly accurate, Freese connected on 86.4 percent (70-81) of his field goals in four seasons, including a perfect 20-20 last year. The potential downside is his range. Freese made just two kicks from beyond 50 yards last season, including a career-best from 52. Although the Lions wouldn't need him in either role, Freese also handled kickoffs and punts for the Eagles last season." - MLive

April 15, 2014 - kicker search
"The Detroit Lions have two kickers on their roster — John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio — but the man who handles field goals for them this fall could be someone entirely different. Special teams coordinator John Bonamego said at a town hall meeting for season-ticket holders Monday night that the Lions are still on the lookout for help at kicker. 'From a scouting standpoint, it’s our top priority in my department,' Bonamego said. 'We have two guys on the roster right now that both have some experience.… We’ll evaluate those guys in this upcoming period and we’ll compare them to the guys that are coming up in the draft, the draft-eligible guys, and we’ll find one'. Potter played six games as a kickoff specialist for the Buffalo Bills in 2012 and three games for Washington last year. He made three of four field goals in Washington, with a long of 43 yards. Tavecchio was in training camp with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012 and the Green Bay Packers last year. He nearly beat out Mason Crosby for the Packers’ kicking job last fall and then tried out for the Lions in December." - Detroit Free Press

February 27, 2014 - long snapper Don Muhlbach re-signed
"The Detroit Lions have signed longtime long-snapper Don Muhlbach to a one-year contract, according to the team's website. Muhlbach has been with the organization the past 10 seasons after signing as a undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M in 2004. He's missed only one game since 2004 and is considered one of the best in the business. He was a Pro Bowler in 2012. Muhlbach is believed to have signed a minimum salary benefit deal. That means he will make the 10th-year veteran minimum ($955,000, plus up to a $65,000 bonus) but the contract will count as a third-year veteran minimum ($645,000 plus the bonus) against the cap." - MLive

February 21, 2014 - parting ways with kicker David Akers
"Embattled Detroit Lions kicker David Akers is among five veterans who were informed by general manager Martin Mayhew they will not return next season.... Akers is the most notable player of those who will not return. He signed with the Lions last offseason, but fell out of favor after struggling with his accuracy. He was 19-of-24 on the season, good for a 79.2 percent hit rate that was his second-worst mark since 2007. Mayhew said he expects kickers John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio to compete for the job after signing futures deals this offseason, though the club could pursue veterans in free agency." - MLive