Kicker Austin Seibert has been terrific for the Detroit Lions to begin the season. He's 10-for-11 on his field-goal attempts and a perfect 5-for-5 kicking extra points.
As it turns out, his wife Valerie gets a big assist for her husband's great start.
Seibert contracted COVID-19 back in September and was placed on the NFL's Reserve/COVID-19 list on Sept. 23. He missed Weeks 3 and 4 because of it. Seibert followed all the NFL protocols and was away from the team during that stretch, but he didn't stay away from practicing.
"Throughout all that I was doing some routine steps at my house in the backyard, or I'd go to a high school field and I would kick and my wife would shag some balls for me," Seibert said. "That's kind of what I did through quarantine just to stay game ready."
The first time Seibert went to kick he found a field in Royal Oak and kicked at a tree. Seibert was just driving around looking for a place to kick that looked flat, so that's where he went.
"Maintaining a safe physical distance, my wife would throw the ball back to me and that's how we did that," Seibert said. "It's different, but we made it work."
Later he found a turf field, one punter Jack Fox told him about that is where he kicks away from the team's Allen Park facility in the summer. So Seibert upgraded to that field and said it worked out great because no one was there and he didn't have to worry about being around people.
Practice squad kicker Ryan Santoso held down the fort in the two games he stepped in for Seibert against Baltimore and Chicago. Seibert was able to return from the reserve list Week 5 in Minnesota, and was a perfect 3-for-3 in his return. He was 4-for-4 this past weekend in Los Angeles against the Rams, connecting from 37, 47, 41 and 31 yards.
Seibert's only miss on the year was his first kick, Week 1 vs. San Francisco, a 51-yarder he hit left. He's hit on his next 10 since.
There were a lot of questions marks at the position early on this year as the Lions cycled through kickers in training camp, but Seibert won the job coming out of camp and he's been steady since.
Credit to him, and a big assist from Valerie for shagging all those kicks and helping her husband stay ready the couple weeks he was away from the team.