David Akers: Success Or Bust?
By Allen Jones
The Detroit Lions have shown many competitive deficiencies during their recent effort to resurrect the franchise from underachievement.
Kicking has not been one of them.
When a nagging heel injury forced the 42-year-old probable Hall of Fame kicker Jason Hanson to retire at the conclusion of the 2012 season, he had claimed the NFL record for most games played with one team (327), most career field goals from 50-plus yards (51) and finished 3rd in scoring history (2,150 points) among other accolades. But who could replace such a willing talent?
Enter free agent kicker David Akers.
He made his name with the Philadelphia Eagles during their half-decade of dominance over the NFC in the early 2000s. Most notably, he tore his hamstring against the Raiders in 2005, then returned to the second half of a game kick two extra points and the game winning field goal from 28 yards out.
After spending two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, he brings his championship pedigree and remarkable resumè to Detroit. The 14-year-veteran showed some regression in consistency last season, only making 69 percent of his field goals. Conversely, he hit his career high and tied the NFL record for longest field goal made with a 63-yard kick.
Akers and the Lions are a perfect marriage out of need. He has the opportunity to make an impact with his leg, as well as his leadership and intangibles, which were refined as a consistent clutch kicker for two competitive franchises, despite his struggles last year.
With a high-powered offense featuring quarterback Matt Stafford, arguably the best wide receiver in the game Calvin Johnson and free agent running back Reggie Bush, Akers won't be asked to carry a huge load. If he can duplicate his performance from recent seasons and show the heart that bolstered his reputations, he'll fit right in.
If not, the Lions also have famed Internet trick-shot kicker Havard Rugland as an electric insurance policy.