Throughout the first two weeks of training camp practice, the Detroit Lions kicker battle has been neck-and-neck between Riley Patterson and Parker Romo. Through all training camp practices, Patterson has missed just one more kick than Romo.
On Wednesday morning, coach Dan Campbell offered his thoughts on where the kicker battle stands thus far.
“I mean there’s nothing that would necessarily tip you one way or another right now,” Campbell said. “We’re letting them—we are, we’re letting them compete.”
This offseason, the Lions signed Parker Romo, fresh off a successful stint in the XFL, during free agency. They also sent a conditional 2026 seventh-round pick to the Jaguars to bring back Riley Patterson.
Campbell noted that Patterson, who lost Detroit’s kicker camp battle last year, has improved from the last time he was in training camp, particularly when it comes to kickoffs.
“He has a stronger leg as it pertains to kickoffs,” Campbell said. “Like his kickoffs are much better. He’s getting more hang time, he’s getting more depth. He’s been pretty steady on field goals, so it’s good.”
Patterson’s strength also showed up on field goals during Wednesday’s practice after he drilled a 58-yarder to “win the game” at the end of a situational drill. Going back to college, his career long field goal made is 56 yards, and he has not made a kick longer than 53 yards in the pros.
After being cut by the Lions last year, the Jaguars picked Patterson up and he became their full-time kicker for the season. In 2022, he made 30-of-35 kicks in Jacksonville, and helped vault them into the second round of the playoffs with a 36-yard, game-winning field goal. That season with the Jaguars has him entering 2023 with newfound confidence.
Talking to Pride of Detroit amongst a small group of reporters after practice, Patterson mentioned how after a year in Jacksonville, he feels more confident. In particular, he noted how making the walk-off field goal in the playoffs last season has prepared him for what to expect when another high-pressure moment inevitably comes up.
“Just knowing what my mind is thinking, and what my body is feeling at that time of the year, in the playoffs, and knowing what that is like is probably the biggest takeaway from it,” Patterson said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’m not going to be surprised when we get in a similar situation this year. I know how I’m going to feel and I’ll (be able to) take advantage of it, swing hard, and make kicks. I feel really good about it.”
While Patterson may have a slight early edge, Campbell said that Romo still has the bigger leg. His accuracy and control, however, are still developing.
“And then Romo,” Campbell continued. “As we know, man he has a massive leg and he will always be just a little bit of working on that accuracy and control. Which, we kind of knew that. It’s about just competing and developing and getting a little bit better, but we like those two guys, we do.”
In the XFL, Romo displayed a good amount of that control. For the San Antonio Brahmas, Romo made 17-of-19 kicks, including a 57-yard make—the longest kick ever made at Lumen Field.
Wednesday’s practice was another example of how even this kicker battle is right now. In a trio of kicks from 41, 44, and 48, both made two of three. Then, during the situational, “game-winning,” kicks, both made from 57 yards, but missed from 61.