The Detroit Lions have announced that they have finally signed a kicker. Former Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater, who is 30 years old, has outperformed kickers Connor Barth who is 28 and Jay Feely who is 38. The Lions were concerned about getting a kicker who was experienced and reliable and Prater fits that description perfectly. Prater has 6 years experience as a full time kicker in the NFL with 2 additional years of floating around getting preseason work. Prater was the fan favorite coming into today’s workouts but Feely displayed that he was not going to make it easy on him. In the end though, Prater was the better player.
Connor Barth hit a variety of field goals ranging from 55 and 60 yards. He did however miss one, his only miss of the day, from 61 yards. Feely successfully hitting the 61 yard field goal likely gave him the edge over Barth before Prater got his shot. Barth, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, has a better career field goal percentage than Feely and Prater at 84%. Barth is also the youngest of the three kickers to try out. Unfortunately for him though, Prater is only 2 years older than him so age did not play a big role in the decision.
Jay Feely had a great workout as well and was the second in line to be the next Lions kicker. He easily beat out Barth by making field goals of 58, 60, 60, and 61 yards. Feely, a former University of Michigan kicker, had made comments on twitter asking the Detroit Lions for a try out. He got a call shortly after and almost got the job. Unfortunately for Feely, Prater had a better workout and was able to convince the Lions that his off the field issues will not interfere with his ability to play on Sundays.
Prater had to battle both Jay Feely today and his substance abuse issues. Prater was charged with a DUI in 2011 which put him into a stricter testing category by the NFL. He failed again, causing him to receive a 4 game suspension, for drinking at home. He was not charged with a second DUI, but having failed the NFL’s testing and getting a suspension created red flags for the Detroit Lions brass. Prater though did have a history with the Detroit Lions. He was signed in 2006 as an undrafted free agent. He kicked for the majority of the preseason, but was released due to the Lions having Jason Hanson already. Prater was grateful to the Lions for providing enough tape of him in the preseason to land on a roster in 2007, and ultimately land a full time job in 2008 with the Denver Broncos.