LIONS INSIDER

NOTEBOOK: Freese and Hanson; Suh and OTA's and more

Posted May 18, 2014

Jason Hanson has helped out new Lions kicker Nate Freese this weekend and head coach Jim Caldwell expects Ndamukong Suh to participate in the OTA portion of the offseason training program this week.

Nate Freese had a level of consistency kicking field goals in college that is quite rare.

In fact, his 86.4 percent conversion rate (70 of 81) is the seventh highest since 2000.

That level of dependability is why the Lions drafted Freese in the seventh round of the NFL Draft last weekend. Freese is the first kicker drafted by the Lions since Jason Hanson in 1992 (second round).

Speaking of Hanson, he's been helping the Lions kickers at times this offseason, and was at this weekend’s rookie minicamp helping out Freese for the first time.

“I just kind of picked his brain,” Freese said of working with Hanson. “What did you do your first minicamp? How did you handle yourself? What’s your routine? Just little things like that.”

Jim CaldwellHead coach Jim Caldwell (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Freese said Hanson told him he did a good job, which is a good start to his NFL career.

Freese and the Lions would be fortunate to have the same kind of consistency Hanson had over a 21-year career at this level. Hanson’s career field goal percentage is 82.4 percent.

The last time Freese missed a field goal was his junior season at Boston College. He was a perfect 20-for-20 last year.

“Now, in terms of going with a young kicker, I’ve been there before,” head coach Jim Caldwell said. “A couple years ago with Baltimore we had a young guy that kicked pretty well as a first-year kicker.”

Caldwell was referring to Justin Tucker, who was undrafted in 2012 and made the Pro Bowl last year.

“We anticipate that Nate’s (Freese) going to just continue to develop and be very, very good at what he’s doing,” Caldwell said.

SUH TO TAKE PART IN OTAs

It’s been Ndamukong Suh’s normal offseason schedule to sit out the offseason training program portion of the schedule and show up for the voluntary OTA (organized team activity) practices, which start Tuesday for the Lions.

Caldwell said he’s talked and texted with Suh this offseason and expects him to take part in the team practices this week.

“Do I know that he’ll be here? I would anticipate that he would be here,” Caldwell said.

“Obviously, he’s a great player and he’s also got great leadership ability as well. So, to have him back in here working amongst the group is going to be a great time for everybody.”

The Lions were afforded an extra minicamp last month due to the fact that Caldwell and his coaching staff are new. Suh didn’t show up to that minicamp, while nearly all of his other teammates did.

PRODUCTIVE MINICAMP

The biggest goal for the Lions coaching staff during this weekend’s rookie minicamp was to get those players up to speed so the transition into OTA this week goes smoothly.

The last thing Caldwell and his staff want is a rookie slowing things up for the veterans.

In that regard, he said this weekend was a success.

“We just ended up I think what has been an outstanding rookie mini-camp,” Caldwell said. “Over the years, it’s my 14th year in the National Football League, we’ve never had a group that was able to really devour so much information. Not only that, they were able to go out and apply it. We got a lot of good work done. It was an impressive group.” 

NOT 95 FOR LONG

Kyle Van Noy was issued No. 95 after the Lions drafted him in the second round (No. 40 overall) last weekend. However, it’s not likely to be the number Van Noy is in when the season starts.

Players are allowed to change their jersey numbers one time by the NFL. Expect Van Noy to be somewhere in the 50’s come the regular season.

SAVE THE NUMBER

The Lions had 23 players participate this weekend on a tryout basis. While the majority of them will never see a Lions uniform again, there’s value in having them participate and the Lions will keep their numbers in the Rolodex.

“What happens in a number of cases is that you have a number of guys that have been at least introduced to your system,” Caldwell said. “Somewhere down the line it may be a guy that’s out there that’s not signed with a particular team, one of these guys we’ll be able to call back and we know he has some familiarity with what we do.

“Oftentimes some of those tough weeks you’re looking around, you’ve got a couple of guys that may be banged up, that’s where these guys certainly come in to play. I think you’ll see a number of them probably with some other teams here after this weekend. So, we appreciate them. They did a tremendous job and it was a productive weekend.”