Lions kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, a native of Milan, Italy, fed his fellow specialists a homemade sampling of lasagna, sausage and peppers and tiramisu Thursday night in Fremont, California.
His mother, who lives in Moraga, drove about 45 minutes south to the team hotel in Fremont to deliver the Italian specialties the night before the Lions played the Oakland Raiders.
Sadly, Tavecchio didn’t have much of a chance to eat during the game, so to speak, as the Lions left the West Coast with little clarity as to who will be their kicker for the 2014 season.
Rookie kicker Nate Freese, a seventh-round pick, missed one of his two 32-yard extra points in the first quarter, bouncing it off the right upright, but he drilled a 55-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter.
“He hit a fantastic ball,” Tavecchio said of Freese’s long field goal. “On the dirt, into the wind and with the rush like that, just a beautiful kick. … Kudos to him for bouncing back and hitting a beautiful kick.”
In comparison, Tavecchio made both of his kicks in the second half, a 32-yard extra point and a 25-yard field goal. And the effervescent Tavecchio wasn’t rooting for the offense to give him a chance for a long kick.
“To be honest, I’m just rooting for us to score every time,” he said. “I want to see my teammates succeed, I want to see them make catches, I want to see them run for first downs, I want to see them run for touchdowns. … When it’s my turn to go in, I go in and do my job.”
During training camp, Tavecchio was the more consistent kicker, but Freese showed improvement as he became more comfortable with long snapper Don Muhlbach and holder Sam Martin. The Lions will use practice the next two weeks and the final two exhibition games to determine which kicker will earn the job.
Tavecchio, who lost training camp battles in San Francisco and Green Bay the last two years, said his approach to the competition won’t change over the next two weeks.
“I feel like I’ve really enjoyed this process,” he said. “I feel confident in how I’m hitting the ball. I feel confident in the process that I’ve been on, and I’m just hoping to keep moving forward the way I am.”
Whatever happens, Tavecchio was glad he could play in Oakland in front of his family, who sat in the fifth row behind the Lions’ bench. However, he was a little worried about his mother’s stress level.
“She almost has a heart attack,” he said with a smile. “She retired in 2011 wanting to use my season (at Cal) as an excuse to travel. She came to Colorado. It was a close game, (and) she had a panic attack in the fourth.
“I was like, ‘Ma, I know you love me, and I love you, too. You don’t have to come to the games. I don’t want you feeling bad on my behalf.’ All joking aside, it was special to have them there.”