As expected, the Detroit Lions started to look around for kicking help on Monday afternoon, but decided to hold strong behind veteran David Akers, no matter how erratic he has proven much of this season.
The Lions worked out three kickers during practice yesterday, including Havard Rugland, the internet sensation who battled Akers for the starting job this summer in training camp. Rugland remains as untested as he was before, having not gotten the chance to kick in the league anywhere else after being cut by Detroit. Justin Medlock and Olindo Mare were also included in the workout, but each of them have perhaps more warts than Akers himself, meaning a true upgrade will probably have to wait until the offseason.
It's clear that Akers has maintained the needed leg strength to kick in the NFL, but his accuracy has been the main question mark during the 2013 season, and with all the notable misses, confidence issues may have started to creep in, as well. The Detroit Free Press's Dave Birkett notes in his article that Akers has missed from 31, 45 and 47 yards on the season, in addition to having two kicks blocked thanks to special teams breakdowns along the line. Each of the missed kicks were severely off line, including the glaring miss last Thursday against the Green Bay Packers from the comfy indoor kicking confines of Ford Field.
At this point, it certainly appears as if the Lions are banking on the threat of a small amount of practice competition heating up Akers for Detroit's important stretch run. Sunday's game should provide Akers with a good chance to get back on track and find some much needed confidence, as he kicked with the Philadelphia Eagles for years before departing for San Francisco, and should be quite familiar with the field conditions and wind at Lincoln Financial Field.
If Akers cannot get the job done within his old stomping grounds and that ends up costing Detroit the game, however, it might represent the need for a more immediate move in the weeks ahead. Martin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz are staking their reputations to the wobbly leg of a 38 year-old kicker who's hernia surgery looks to have fooled with his fundamentals and thus also his mind.
With Detroit in a push for a division title, playoff spot and first round home game, that represents a ticking time bomb of sorts on the roster. It's one which will continue to persist after Monday's decision to stay with Akers.
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