Throughout training camp, the Detroit Lions' kicker battle between Nate Freese and Giorgio Tavecchio has been pretty even. It's also been pretty even through the first half of the preseason. Neither player has been able to take complete control of the starting kicker job, and this position battle is still up in the air heading into the second half of the preseason.
Here's a look at what each player has managed to do so far in the preseason:
Nate Freese: 3/3 on FGs (37, 32 and 55 yards), 1/2 on XPs, 67.2 kickoff average
Giorgio Tavecchio: 1/1 on FGs (25 yards), 2/2 on XPs, 71.5 kickoff average
Freese has had more chances to show what he can do on field goals, although he did miss the equivalent of a 33-yarder with one of his extra points going off the right upright on Friday night. Tavecchio, meanwhile, hasn't missed any kicks and has outperformed Freese on kickoffs, but he has had fewer chances overall.
Simply based on the reports from practice, Tavecchio has seemingly been a bit more consistent than Freese. However, the fact that Freese kicked in the first half in each of the Lions' first two preseason games seemingly says a lot. It's an indication that he is ahead of Tavecchio in the pecking order. Perhaps that won't mean anything in the long run, but if roster cuts were due today, Tavecchio would likely be the odd man out.
But roster cuts aren't due today. The Lions still have a couple weeks to get things sorted out, and there are still two more games left for the kicker battle to be decided. Freese very well may have a slight edge right now, but Tavecchio is still basically right there. That means that either player could emerge as the Lions' starting kicker depending on what happens in the final two weeks of the preseason.
UPDATE: And from the department of excellent timing, Jim Caldwell broke this news just as this story was published:
Caldwell said Martin will kick off to start Friday to get a look at him. Freese and Tavecchio will rotate series to find kicker.— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) August 19, 2014
So there you go. Instead of giving Freese the entire first half, he will rotate with Tavecchio. That's yet another sign of how close the competition is at kicker.