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Tavecchio was always underdog with Lions

This was always going to be a long journey for Giorgio Tavecchio. The moment the Detroit Lions drafted Nate Freese in the seventh round in May, it put even more pressure on Tavecchio to be perfect.

He was close, yet not quite close enough to push Freese out of the top spot. Throughout training camp, Lions coach Jim Caldwell called it a close competition and that it would be based on results, not on draft status.

Then came Monday's cut, and for the majority of camp, Tavecchio had been the more consistent kicker with the strongest leg. He started camp much more consistent than Freese and continued to be so throughout the open portion of practices.

Rarely did Tavecchio miss, although his most high-profile one came late Friday night on a 51-yard field goal attempt at Ford Field with the Lions holding a one-point lead.

Was that the difference? Tough to say, as Caldwell continually stuck to his close competition statement whenever the kicking game was brought up. The miss certainly didn't help Tavecchio, though, especially after Freese made a 55-yarder at Oakland the week before.

Of course, Freese was given more opportunities in games than Tavecchio. Freese worked with first-team holder Sam Martin all camp -- Caldwell said not to read into that -- and was the first kicker out in every circumstance.

That, to me, does not make for a close competition.

Caldwell wanted to change things in the third preseason game, saying the kickers would alternate attempts throughout the game. Except the Lions didn't do much on offense. They scored two touchdowns -- Freese took the extra point on one, the Lions went for two on the other -- and Tavecchio's only attempt was again late in a preseason game with backups playing.

This was Tavecchio's third straight training camp on the wrong side of the cut line -- first in San Francisco, where he lost out to David Akers, and then in Green Bay, where he challenged Mason Crosby.

If he proved anything in this camp, it is that he is good enough to be an NFL kicker. He just needs to find an opportunity to actually make a roster -- and the Lions appeared to be his best chance yet.

At least until Monday, when he faced the harsh reality of the NFL business once again.