Riley Patterson exposes Lions flaw at kicker with erratic preseason finale

Riley Patterson's inconsistent game in the preseason finale proved why the Lions have to find a consistent kicker.
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

While the Detroit Lions saw positives emerge from their 26-17 preseason finale win over the Carolina Panthers, the performance of Riley Patterson was not amongst them.

Patterson went a respectable looking 2-3 on field goals, but the miss was a 53-yarder that exposed his limited range. Patterson's career-long is 53 yards, and he hit the crossbar on the miss against the Panthers.

Patterson also missed an extra point late, preventing the Lions from getting to a 10-point lead in the closing stages. It didn't end up hurting Detroit with backups in, but in the regular season such missteps could prove costly.

The Lions have failed to replace Matt Prater. They've blown through many free agent kickers including Michael Badgley, Randy Bullock, Austin Seibert and Matthew Wright. The common thread? All have shown concerns with distance and accuracy.

It's clear that Patterson has these exact same worries after watching him operate Friday night.

This season, with expectations heightened, the Lions can't allow the kicker position to be a liability. Finding a good kicker is hard, but that doesn't mean the Lions should give up in the attempt to solve the problem.

The Lions must scour free agent market for a veteran kicker

In the days ahead, the Lions will be making several major roster decisions. Simply going with Patterson in as their kicker shouldn't happen.

Detroit let Badgley go in the offseason, and he's since found work. Free agents exist on the market. Mason Crosby, Ryan Succop and Robbie Gould come to mind as veteran options.

A kicker tryout with veterans to press Patterson could get the Lions the answers they need ahead of roster cuts. Detroit's special teams otherwise look solid, with Jack Fox remaining an elite option at punter and return and coverage units that looked good this preseason.

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Games are regularly won and lost on the foot of a kicker. The Lions still have a problem there, and it's a critical shortcoming that still needs fixing less than two weeks before the season starts.