The Detroit Lions have made their choice for punter on Tuesday. After reportedly working out four different punters on Monday, the Lions officially signed former Viking Jeff Locke to the team. As expected, Kasey Redfern has been placed on reserve-injured after tearing his ACL and MCL following a botched punt attempt.
Locke, a former fifth-round draft pick, joins Detroit after spending four years with the Minnesota Vikings. Over that time, Locke averaged 43.2 yards per punt with a net of just 38.8. However, he has a pretty good ratio pinning opponents deep in their own zone, leaving 101 punts inside the 20, while only ceding 17 touchbacks.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Locke’s kickoff abilities may have tipped the scales in his favor. While Locke only has six career kickoffs in the NFL, it was something he excelled at during college. At UCLA, Locke was the kickoff specialist, recording 68 touchbacks on 89 kickoffs—a league high, according to UCLA’s official website.
Locke also brings experience over promising young talents like Ohio State’s Cameron Johnston or Michigan’s Kenny Allen (neither of which even got a tryout, according to Birkett). The Lions may have felt more comfortable going with a veteran after Redfern’s blunder, considering that was his first NFL game appearance.
So Locke will be the Lions’ punter going forward, likely until starter Sam Martin comes off the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list. Martin was placed on the NFI list just before training camp with an ankle injury. The Lions kept him on the list through the start of the regular season, which means Martin is not eligible to return until Week 7 (the Lions’ bye week).
Also placed on injured reserve was offensive tackle Corey Robinson. Robinson was taken off the PUP list less than two weeks ago after going through foot surgery in the offseason. It’s not clear whether Robinson reaggravated the foot or if the activation was premature, but the Lions do still list his injury as a foot. Robinson is eligible to return to practice in six weeks, but cannot be activated from IR for another eight.
To replace Robinson, the Lions signed tackle Emmett Cleary. Cleary spent the 2016 season with the Cowboys, appearing in 13 games and starting in one. He was an injury replacement for Tyron Smith at left tackle in Dallas’ regular season finale, but was waived by the Cowboys in the final round of cuts this year.