With the status of Quandre Diggs and Tavon Wilson up in the air, Lions third-round pick Tracy Walker could be forced into more action.
Walker has played in 21.2 percent of defensive snaps for the Lions, fourth out of the team’s safeties.
“He’s played some football for us out here in critical situations,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “He’s still got a lot to learn from just the intricacies and the things that come up in a game and communication and the rest of it, but he’s doing a good job and trying to stay on top of it and getting better every week.”
He had what could have been a game-turning interception on the final drive against San Francisco in Week 2, but the Lions were called for a penalty on the play.
Walker, a surprise pick out of Louisiana-Lafayette, had an interception and forced a fumble in the preseason. He has three tackles in the regular season.
“He’s a young guy learning guy learning his way, trying to understand how focused and how intense you have to be every day of the week,” defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said.
“He’s learning and earning his way to it.”
While teams like Minnesota, Cleveland and the Los Angeles Rams have already hit the waiver wire to fix early season kicking woes, the Lions and Packers are among teams set at the position.
Detroit’s Matt Prater and Green Bay’s Mason Crosby have been stalwarts, with Crosby in his 12th season out of Ohio State. Stephen Gostkowski of New England and Adam Vinatieri of Indianapolis are the only active kickers who have been with their teams longer.
Crosby, Green Bay’s career scoring leader, is 10-of-11 this season on field goals (90.9 percent).
The Lions had two kickers for 33 years in Eddie Murray (1980-91) and Jason Hanson (1992-2012) for all but 28 field-goal attempts during that span.
The post-Hanson era featured one season of David Akers in 2013 and short 2014 stints by Nate Freese and Alex Henery before Prater steadied the ship.
Since taking over for good in Week 6 of 2014, Prater’s field-goal mark of 85.7 percent on 112 of 131 kicks is best in Lions history for kickers with a minimum of 10 attempts.
Wide receiver Golden Tate confirmed that he stopped and helped after driving upon an accident Tuesday morning on the Southfield Freeway.
“Just glad everyone was ok,” Tate wrote in a tweet after the observation from a Detroit Lions reporter, adding that a 3-year-old girl was involved.
Patricia was asked if he had seen the report about the incident on Twitter.
“I’m not in the tweet program, no, so I didn’t hear about it,” Patricia said. “But if something like that happened, that doesn’t surprise me. Golden is a great guy. He’s a very giving and caring person.”
Cornerback Dee Virgin was cut by the Lions, the team announced Tuesday.
Virgin was a gunner on the league-worst punt team and made a crucial mistake early in Sunday's loss against Dallas, crossing the goal line for a touchback on a Sam Martin punt.
Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.