Notes: Lions look to fill kicking void after releasing Alex Henery

Alex Henery held the Lions' kicking job for just two weeks because he could make only one of his five field-goal attempts.

Tim Fuller

ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Maybe the Detroit Lions will get it right on the third try, although that didn’t exactly work Sunday for Alex Henery.

Coach Jim Caldwell confirmed Monday during his weekly news conference that the Lions have released Henery in the wake of his three missed field goals in the previous day’s 17-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills, including a 50-yarder in the final minute.

"We’re in the process of getting someone in to take over that spot," Caldwell said. "We’ll look at it closely. We’ve got to find a performer. We’ve got to get a guy who’s consistent under pressure.

"In this league, there are going to be close games. A guy in that position is going to decide a number of games. We’ve got to make certain we get the right guy for us."

So far, they’re 0-for-2.

Rookie Nate Freese, a seventh-round draft pick out of Boston College, started the season as the Lions’ kicker. He lasted only three games before getting released after missing four of his seven field-goal attempts.

That led to the signing of Henery, who had three years of experience with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Henery held the job for just two weeks because he could make only one of his five field-goal attempts.

In all, the Lions’ kickers are a stunningly brutal 4-of-12 this season.

So, who’s next?

At least two possibilities have emerged with veterans Jay Feely and Matt Prater expected to take part Tuesday in tryouts with the Lions, according to the NFL Network.

Feely, 38, who kicked in college at Michigan, got his wish. On Sunday, a Twitter follower asked him what he was up to, and Feely responded, "Waiting for @Lions to call."

Feely, with 13 years of NFL experience, got released late in preseason by the Arizona Cardinals. He made 30-of-36 field-goal attempts, including 3-of-5 from 50+ yards, last season for the Cardinals.

There’s somebody out there for us, that will do the job for us. We’ve just got to see if we can track him down quickly.

Jim Caldwell

Prater, on the other hand, is coming off a four-game suspension from the league after testing positive for alcohol, which was prohibited following a previous DUI arrest.

In the meantime, the Denver Broncos found another reliable kicker and decided to release Prater, 30, who had been with the team since 2007.

Prater was 25-of-26 last season, including 6-of-7 from 50+ yards, although some kicks were certainly aided by the altitude in Denver.

Asked how Prater’s off-the-field problem could influence the Lions’ decision, Caldwell said, "We’ll look at each and every guy and make a determination based upon what we sense and feel about him on and off the field. That’s how we do every guy, (to determine whether the situation is) suitable to the comfort level all of us that are involved."

The extensive NFL experience of Feely and Prater make them natural contenders to fill the job provided their skills haven’t diminished too much.

Feely has appeared in eight playoff games during his career. Prater has played in six playoff games, including making 4-of-4 field-goal attempts for the Broncos in last season’s AFC championship game.

"It’s one of the factors that you have to look at because of the fact, they’ve done it, they’ve been there before," Caldwell said of the experience factor.  "You would suspect that they’re accustomed to it."

The Lions, plain and simply, would have won Sunday’s game with a quality kicker.

Instead, they’re 3-2 now and tied with Green Bay for first place in the NFC North. It’s not too late to fix the situation, but they’ve got to get it right this time.

"You can’t put them in a game situation and find out everything you need to know about them," Caldwell said when asked about the Lions’ failure to identify a reliable kicker to this point. "That’s an unknown and uncertainty. You have to make your best guess and go with it and if it’s not (right), you get it corrected. Don’t be ashamed to get it corrected. Don’t try to cover it up and act as if it didn’t (happen). Don’t hide your head in the sand.

"That’s a thing I think you’ll find that’s refreshing about our organization. We’re not afraid to get this thing straightened out. We owe it to our team, we owe it to our fans. We’ve got to do the best we possibly can in terms of correcting the problem."

Caldwell has been around a lot of talented kickers over the years, most recently last year with Justin Tucker in Baltimore.

He believes the Lions can solve this problem. The question is whether it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

"There’s somebody out there for us, that will do the job for us," Caldwell said. "We’ve just got to see if we can track him down quickly."


Caldwell wasn’t offering any medical updates on the ankle injuries suffered by receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Reggie Bush.

But he did admit that holding Johnson out for Sunday’s game at Minnesota is an increasingly possible option.

"I thought about it last week," Caldwell said. "Just being straight forward, I’m going to think about it again this week, strongly."

Johnson has been held to three receptions for 19 yards the last two games while being hampered by the bad ankle.

— The Lions are still waiting for running back Joique Bell, who missed Sunday’s game with a concussion, to be cleared to play at Minnesota.

"Certainly, we’re hoping," Caldwell said. "He has to be evaluated. There’s league protocol that has to be followed. We’ll see where that goes."