LIONS INSIDER

CAMP NOTEBOOK: Lions hold high-pressure kicking competition

Posted Aug 13, 2014

Tim Twentyman covers all the news from Tuesday's training camp practice including the high-pressure field goal drill, motivating Nick Fairley and more.

Coaches are always looking for ways to challenge players and put them in uncomfortable situations to see how they respond.

Kickers Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio were put in such a spot during Wednesday's practice.

The schedule called for a “kicking competition” at practice, but neither Freese nor Tavecchio knew exactly what that meant.

It turns out they’d be kicking with the entire team surrounding them while yelling and taunting them.

“There were a few Italian things because those stick,” Tavecchio said of what teammates were saying to try and distract him. “Someone said, ‘Pizza Pasta.’

“It’s a pretty interesting experience. It creates some tunnel vision and really makes you focus in on your technique and execution. Pretty useful for game situations.”

When it was Freese’s turn, guard Rodney Austin started chanting, ‘Don’t freeze, Freese’ and kept getting louder and louder with it.

“They did it to rattle us a little bit and get some people in there pushing us and what not,” said Freese, who the Lions drafted in the seventh round in May to be their kicker.

“It was like one loud noise.”

The drill obviously served a purpose on the field, but a couple of players said it’s one of those team-bonding moments that aren’t designed to be, but end up being anyway.

“I didn’t realize they were going to enjoy it so much to be honest with you,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “But we really thought that it would be something they could get into and help us create some distraction. The more the merrier.

“I’m not certain that I thought of it that way as team bonding, but it could be. We all have the same goal in mind and I think they enjoyed getting into it because they understand what we’re trying to get accomplished, number one. And they know that the result of that, whoever, comes out of the competition and does extremely well is going to help us win.”

Freese and Tavecchio rotated kicks from 36, 45, 54, 62 and 67 yards.

Freese made his attempts from 45 and 54 and missed from 36, 62 and 67.

Tavecchio made his kicks from 36, 45 and 54 and missed the last two from 62 and 67, though the 67-yard attempt looked to be only a yard or two short.

He was asked how far he could go back and comfortably feel like he could make it after practice.

“I guess 66 (yards) today,” he said with a laugh.

IMPORTANT FOR ANSAH TO PLAY SOON

Ziggy AnsahDE Ziggy Ansah (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Caldwell has ruled out Ziggy Ansah playing in Friday’s second preseason game in Oakland. It would have been a quick turnaround for the talented second-year defensive end, who was just taken off the PUP list on Tuesday.

The Lions are working him in slowly at practice, but acknowledge that getting him some preseason work will be important moving forward vs. Jacksonville and Buffalo.

“I think because of the fact he missed the spring and then coming back in the fall, it’ll be sort of a learning experience for him going along,” Caldwell said. “(He’s) learning at the wrong time, when we’re trying to do some things that are very, very difficult. So, everybody’s got to make certain that they’re operating without thinking and so I think it’s important that he gets an opportunity.”

Ansah offers a unique skill set with his size and speed and Caldwell said he’s happy to have him back in the fold at practice.

“He’s progressing, (and he’s a) big, strong man, he’s going to help us,” Caldwell said. “He’s either going to collapse the pocket with his size and strength or he’ll run around the offensive player and use his length to be an obstruction to the passer, and he’ll get some sacks for us, as well. He’s a force.”

MOTIVATING FAIRLEY

It appears the Lions are trying to motivate defensive tackle Nick Fairley to play a better brand of football.

At first glance it seems he’s a bit heavier than the 305 pounds he said he reported at and he’s been seeing less reps in practice over the last three days.

“We talk to him, and most of all we have to stick together,” said fellow defensive tackle C.J. Mosley, who’s seen his reps go up recently. “At the same time, go out there and have fun. Be infectious, having fun, winning games and winning in practice. Keep encouraging him, keep encouraging each other and just stick together.”

CALDWELL ON ICE

Tuesday night receiver Golden Tate took the ALS ice bucket challenge and afterwards challenged Caldwell to do the same.

Wednesday after practice, Caldwell accepted the challenge.

He nominated Tony Dungy, Chris Paul and John Harbaugh for the ice bucket challenge after he was done.

OBSERVATIONS

-- Former Lions great Jason Hanson was at practice lending some advice to the kickers.

-- Defensive end Jason Jones played a lot more inside today. It could have been because of the situations they were working on, but he does give Teryl Austin that option and is good at both.

-- Tight end Eric Ebron dropped a wide open touchdown pass in a red zone team drill. Ebron has been much better in that regard over the last week, but that was one he should have had.

-- LaAdrian Waddle was playing right tackle Wednesday and is expected to start there Friday night as coaches continue to rotate him and Corey Hilliard. Hilliard started the first preseason game.