No unit was a bigger disaster for the Detroit Lions on Monday night than their special teamers. Not only did Matt Prater uncharacteristically miss two field goals, but the punt coverage team was by far the worst in the league. The Lions gave up 44 more punt return yards than any other team in Week 1, and that’s just on three returns. In total, the Lions gave up a 78-yard touchdown and a 43 and 16-yard return.
It appears the Lions are considering doing something about it. They’ve already waived one of their gunners from Monday, Bradley Marquez, but they could be adding someone soon. According to MLive’s Nate Atkins, special teams ace Don Carey was visiting the Lions on Wednesday, the second time he was at Allen Park in as many weeks.
The Lions let Carey go earlier this offseason, and he was scooped up by the Jacksonville Jaguars. However, Carey suffered a hamstring injury during the preseason and was placed on IR. The Jags cut him a week later, making Carey a free agent.
Carey could come in and immediately upgrade the Lions’ gunner position. In his seven years with Detroit, Carey was consistently named the team’s special teams MVP by his teammates, and it was a bit curious to see the Lions move on from him this offseason, although Carey is 31 years old.
In addition to potentially adding a gunner, the Lions also spent this week looking at some extra punters:
After giving up a couple long punt returns, including one returned for a TD on Monday night, the Lions worked out punters today. Ryan Santoso was back for a workout, and Ryan Quigley came in as well.— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) September 12, 2018
Sam Martin looked fine in his season debut, averaging a solid 50.7 yards per punt. One could argue he outkicked the coverage once or twice against the Jets, but the Lions’ coverage teams take most of the blame from Monday’s meltdown.
At this point, there’s no indication the Lions are planning on moving on from Martin. Teams regularly work out players just to keep tabs on them in case of emergency. After all, they gave Martin a four year-extension just two years ago.
However, it is curious that they brought back Ryan Santoso, who spent all training camp with the Lions and probably doesn’t require much of a scouting update. We’ll see if the Lions make a move before Week 2’s game against the 49ers.