Not many people sign an NFL contract before they’ve ever worn a football helmet. But Havard Rugland’s path to the NFL was not like most.
Rugland, the Norwegian kicker who parlayed a trick shot YouTube video into a spot on the Lions’ offseason roster, had the first football practice of his life at the Lions’ rookie minicamp on Friday. Lions coach Jim Schwartz was asked afterward where the coaches had to start with Rugland.
“Putting a helmet on,” Schwartz answered. “Didn’t really get that whole thing. I actually asked him out there, ‘Is this the first time you’ve had a helmet on,’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’ So, you’ve got to start there.”
Rugland is not expected to make the regular-season roster, and Schwartz detailed how much work Rugland has to do.
“You know, he’s kicked the ball his whole life but it’s different,” Schwartz said. “There’s a snapper, there’s a holder, and there are 10 other guys on the field. It’s not an individual sport. As much as the technique and everything else is individual, you’re relying on a lot of different guys. So, this was his first taste of that. We didn’t really do any kicking today, but as we go that will be. But he’s never put a pair of football pants on. When we make thigh pads and knee pads mandatory, he’s not going to know which one’s which and where they go without some direction.”
That’s the kind of teaching most NFL coaches don’t have to worry about. But Rugland has to start somewhere.