O'Hara's Monday Countdown: 'Kickalicious' summer odyssey, Miggy's impact on Lions players

Posted Aug 19, 2013

Columnist Mike O'Hara takes a look at David Akers' relationship with Havard Rugland, how Lions' players reacted to Saturday's walk-off home run by Miguel Cabrera and more

It isn't often that something new is said or seen in training camp, but David Akers has broken new ground for a player interview.

Akers has been an interested bystander, and with a vested interest, in the commotion over Norwegian kicker Havard Rugland's summer odyssey in Lions' camp. Akers' take as an interested observer is the lead in this week's Monday Countdown.

There is also a tweet from linebacker Stephen Tulloch that shows how much impact Miguel Cabrera has made on Detroit's other pro athletes, how Reggie Bush might have surprised some fans but not his teammates, Joique Bell's unwanted role in a streaker's invasion of Thursday night's game at Cleveland and a look-ahead stat to Thursday night's home game against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

We start with Akers.

1. Mentor/statesman: "Welcome to America," Akers said cheerfully, ending an interview over the weekend with a Norwegian crew chronicling Rugland's tour with the Lions.

It was a sincere expression after what had been an enjoyable exchange between Akers and the crew.

This is Akers' 16th NFL season. Had he ever ended an interview with "welcome to America"?

"I don't think so," Akers said, laughing.

Rugland's experience has been a good storyline, and it has been a good diversion from the mundane routine of training camp.

Akers has left the spotlight to Rugland while preparing for the regular season. He had made all three of his field-goal attempts -- from 48, 47 and 35 yards -- and appears recovered from the groin injury that hampered him all of last season with the 49ers. Rugland also is 3-for-3, from 49, 50 and 33 yards.

Akers has no negative feeling about the publicity Rugland has gotten. He has enjoyed working with Rugland, in the offseason and in training camp.

"Look, the NFL is such a big deal across international waters," said Akers, who began his pro career kicking in NFL Europe. "You see the numbers of people who watch the Super Bowl. You've got games in London.

"The biggest thing that makes me say that this has been just fine is the type of person Havard is. I've really enjoyed kind of getting to know him, spending time together. In that aspect, it's been a blessing. You meet somebody, get to know their culture -- try to explain American football to him.

"The way he got his opportunity here is crazy, but he's talented. He's making kicks."

2. Helping hand, and foot: Akers has helped Rugland with his kicking mechanics to get him to groove his motion. That hasn't fully taken hold yet.

"He kicks the ball different every single time," Akers said. "There's no consistency in his form at all."

That's an observation, not a criticism. Akers made a comparison to golf swings. Jim Furyk's isn't textbook-perfect, but he's one of the PGA Tour's biggest winners.

"There are some guys in golf, where it's like, 'Don't do it that way,'" Akers said. "But they're really good at what they do. That's Havard right now."

Teams bring at least two kickers and punters to training camp, even with kickers as established as Akers is now and how Jason Hanson was before him. There have been few instances where Akers had an unpleasant competition.

"Most guys in camp with you are really nice guys," Akers said. "One guy was kind of a prima-donna dude. When you have guys like Havard that you can hang with day in or day out, it makes the situation OK -- story or no story."

3. Miggy's fans: It was a little less than an hour before the mandatory training-camp curfew when Miguel Cabrera launched a walk-off homer into the right-field seats to give the Tigers' a 6-5 win over the Royals Saturday night.

The cheers for Cabrera weren't only from the fans in the stadium.

Tulloch tweeted his reaction: "The best player in baseball MIGUEL CABRERA with the walk-off homer. The man is a BEAST"

No argument here.

Bush didn't see the homer, but he wasn't surprised.

"It seems like every time I watch SportsCenter, he's hitting one," Bush said. "Why would you pitch to him?"

4. Alternative viewing: Guard Rob Sims did not watch the Tigers-Royals game Saturday night. Sims watched the Jacksonville Jaguars' game with Miami -- a 27-3 loss for the Jags.

Sims wanted to see the Jaguars because their line coach, George Yarno, coached the Lions' offensive line in Sims' first three seasons in Detroit.

5. Bush whacking: Bush regretted getting a personal foul penalty for a retaliation hit on Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson Thursday night. Officials did not see Jackson's clear hit from behind on Bush, and Bush retaliated immediately, drawing a flag that put the Lions in third and 24.

Any satisfaction Bush got from administering street justice was short-lived.

"For about a half millisecond," he said.

6. Bush whacked: He took a pounding on the first unit's last possession against the Browns. The Lions ran 13 plays to set up a field goal. In one sequence Bush handled the ball eight out of nine plays -- five runs and three receptions.

The Browns' hits didn't seem to have any effect on Bush. And that did not surprise his teammates.

"He wasn't proving anything to us," said center Dominic Raiola. "We know what kind of playmaker he is. You saw how much fire he plays with. It's pretty impressive.

"He's tough. He's an every-down back. He's going to prove it to everybody this year."

7. No joke, Joique: Bell got more attention than he wanted for his hit on a streaker during Thursday night's game. He didn't get overloaded with text messages, though.

"No, because I changed my number," he said. "I got a lot of Twitter. I didn't think it was going to blow up like that, but it did. Hopefully, it dies down.

"It's kind of weird. It's more weird that it even happened."

Bell seemed most offended because the incident showed a lack of respect for the game.

"We work so hard to get to this point," Bell said. "It's just the respect I have for this game."

8. Brady bunch: It should be some sports doubleheader in downtown Detroit Thursday. The stars are out in both places.

Act I: Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers vs. the Twins at Comerica Park in the afternoon.

Act II: A night game next door at Ford Field, with Tom Brady and the Patriots against the Lions, with Ndamukong Suh putting on the rush, and Calvin Johnson catching passes for the Lions.

Brady already has shown that he'll give the Lions' defense its toughest test of the preseason. In the first two games, he has completed 18-of-20 passes for 172 yards, 2 TDs, no picks, and a passer rating of 135.8.