After much speculation, the Detroit Lions have made a decision on a kicker because on Monday morning, the Lions waived kicker Giorgio Tavecchio making way for rookie Nate Freese to become the team’s main and only kicker.
If you’re wondering if this was an easy decision to decide between Tavecchio and Neese, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, said it was a close battle and a very difficult decision.
“It was so close that it was obviously very, very difficult and there were a number of different things that we considered, just in terms of their overall ability to kick.” Coach Caldwell said. ” Both were certainly capable in those areas and Giorgio’s been around a little bit longer, obviously but Nate showed and he made some tough kicks. 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.”
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.”
While I understand Caldwell’s earlier statement, that it was difficult to make a decision, I must say their decision to go with Freese is not that surprising to me. Now I know, that Freese struggled during training camp, including a missed extra point against Oakland in the second preseason game.
However, let’s not forget that the Lions selected Freese with a seventh-round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, which means that the Lions saw something in him from the beginning. Then if that’s not enough, Freese has played on the first team throughout the offs-season, despite his struggles. All this is simple to say that coach Caldwell has always believed that Freese is the one for the Lions and now he has made it official by keeping him and saying that he doesn’t plan to sign a veteran kicker to back up Freese at this time.
“He’s [Freese] a capable young man and he’s going to grow and develop and I think you’re going to see him continue to get better and better.” Coach Caldwell said. ” I think this league is one where you don’t ever stand flat. But obviously, he’s the guy we chose and I think that he’s the best guy for the job. Other than that we’d tell you that we’re going to open it up and look around and those kinds of things, but Nate’s done a tremendous job and I think you’ll see him continue to get better.”
So there you have it, Freese is No.1 while Tavecchio is back on the market. Keep in mind that Tavencchio isn’t the only player back on the market. The Lions also waived full back Chad Abram, punter Drew Butler, quarterback James Franklin, cornerback Jonte Green and cornerback Aaron Hester.
Out of these newly released players, the main two that standout to me are cornerback Jonte Green and quarterback James Franklin.
When it comes to Green’s release, coach Caldwell said the decision was “performance based.”
“You know, often times, what happens in this league is, typically it’s performance-based – everything is.” Coach Caldwell said. And the other thing is too, I think that oftentimes we look to try to pinpoint exactly what an individual’s issues were. I’m not the kind of person that’s going to stand here and talk about someone’s weaknesses and those kinds of things, in particular, in a situation and on a day when it’s a very difficult day for a lot of young men. It’s tough, but it’s all competition based – it’s a meritocracy in this business and at this point in time there was obviously some other guys that performed better.”
While this is bad news for Green, this is good news, for some of the other Lions cornerbacks on the roster like Mohammed Seisay, Chris Greenwood, Cassius Vaughn and Nevin Lawson.
“Well you know obviously, when you look at the situation with them, they’re guys who have performed and played well enough for us to keep taking a deeper look at this particular time.” Coach Caldwell speaking on other CBs like Seisay, Greenwood and Vaugh. “But, they’ve performed extremely well. Obviously, you stack them up and take a look at both sides, and make a determination of who you think best suits you at this time and you move on from there.”
Overall I stand by Caldwell’s decision to release Green. Don’t get me wrong, I am sad to see him go, but after starting seventh on the depth chart this off-season, Green was never able to make a strong enough impact in training camp or in first three weeks of preseason to climb up the depth chart and Coach Caldwell had to acknowledge that and let him go. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if you see Green on the Lions sideline again this season. Remember, if another team doesn’t sign him, Green will be eligible to sign with the Lions’ practice squad after the Lions cut their roster to 53 players, which takes place August 30th.
While there is a chance you could see Green back on the Lions sideline, the chances of seeing quarterback James Franklin on that sideline again anytime soon is unlikely. From the beginning it was almost assumed that the Lions would only keep three quarterbacks and since Franklin never took a snap at quarterback in the preseason, his departure was almost inevitable, especially when you consider the good play of quarterback Kellen Moore.
Nevertheless, I still think and hope that Franklin finds a home with another NFL team. Despite not receiving playing time, Franklin did compete hard in camp. While he may have gone un-drafted in this year’s NFL Draft, it doesn’t change the fact that Franklin has talent. At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Franklin is already a great athlete, making him a threat in the open field. When he runs the ball, you can always count on him to bring a very physical style, making it hard to take him down in the open field. Then when it comes to throwing the ball, he has a very good arm and above-average accuracy, not to mention a good quick release. If you look back at his film, you will see that he can make long throws down the field but at the same time, has no problem making the tough passes over the middle.
The main thing that hurt Franklin in this situation with the Lions, was the fact that he didn’t receive any snaps in preseason play but like I said earlier, I hope to see him find a new NFL home over the next few weeks.
While at the end of the day, it’s never fun or exciting to see players release, coach Caldwell says that while it’s okay for newly cut players to have a bad day or feel bad about being cut, the key is to get back to worse because there always new opportunities for those who work for it.
“Yeah, we do meet with each one of them.” Coach Caldwell speaking on how tough today is with having to release players and if he meets with them individually. “We get a chance to tell them how much we appreciate them too, because it’s not easy what they’ve been doing. It’s a bit different because it’s so public. In this city, in particular, and around the area people understand and know what it’s like to lose a job. But often times I don’t think they put football players in that category. For some reason other people look at that and kind of just dismiss it, ‘Oh yeah he got cut, plain and simple,’ other than their families. But I’m talking about outside folks that read the paper or read it on the internet. It’s difficult. These are human beings, they’re guys that have dreams and hopes and aspirations. It doesn’t mean the absolute end of the road for them because hopefully what I tell them typically is, ‘Hey, you know what, I hope you get picked up by somebody tomorrow and if not tomorrow then I hope somebody picks you up and puts you on their practice squad.’ But to keep working I tell them usually, ‘You have a day or so to feel bad, but then after that you have to get back to work,’ because the opportunity for a number of these guys is going to come back around again. So, we try to encourage them, but we know that it’s a difficult time.”
NOTES: The Detroit Lions announced today that they have placed S DeJon Gomes on the Reserve/Injured list.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
For more of L-Beasley’s (Lauren Beasley) sports news and in-depth sports content, click here.