If you find yourself in the same sentence as Jason Hanson as a Detroit Lions kicker, you must be doing something right.
Riley Patterson became the first Lions rookie to convert three field goals in a game since Jason Hanson in 1992 in Detroit's win over Minnesota Sunday. He was good from 31, 41 and 49 yards against the Vikings, and also made both of his extra point tries, accounting for 11 of Detroit's 29 points.
Patterson was signed off the New England practice squad three weeks ago, and in the two games he's played for the Lions the last two weeks, he's yet to miss a kick.
"We had done a lot of work on him pre-draft and during the draft process and all that," special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said of Patterson after the Lions signed him. "He was a guy we had ranked really high in our evaluation process."
Patterson played 41 games at Memphis, scoring 351 points. He participated in the 2021 Senior Bowl and made two field goal attempts and three extra point attempts in the yearly collegiate exhibition game in front of NFL personnel.
After going undrafted, Patterson signed with the Minnesota Vikings, but was waived in August with an injury settlement. He later signed with New England on their practice squad.
When kicker Austin Seibert was lost for the season due to a hip injury and Ryan Santoso wasn't the answer to replace him, Fipp and the Lions signed Patterson from New England and also signed veteran Aldrick Rosas to the practice squad. After Rosas kicked in Cleveland a few weeks ago, Patterson has emerged as Detroit's go-to kicker the last two weeks, and he's been perfect in that role.
Patterson was in a pretty good situation in New England, working with a veteran kicker in Nick Folk and a head coach who really values special teams in Bill Belichick. Still, Patterson said he didn't think twice about staying in New England when Detroit came calling.
"You don't want to leave a bunch of great people, but obviously an opportunity to try and get on the field and be with some more awesome people," Patterson said Monday. "I want to be on the field. I didn't dream about being on the practice squad. I'm thankful for every part of this journey I'm on."
The Lions went through three different kickers in training camp before claiming Seibert, a fifth-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2019, off waivers from the Bengals prior to Week 1. He proved to offer some stability at the spot when healthy, making 10 of his 12 field goals, but the Lions really seem to love the upside of Patterson.
Patterson has five more opportunities to show he deserves to compete to be the long-term answer at kicker for the Lions.