Kickalicious isn’t just a YouTube sensation anymore. He’s a legitimate NFL kicker.
Havard Rugland, the Norwegian who had never played American football but earned a tryout in Detroit after his trick shot kicking video became an Internet sensation, had an excellent outing in his preseason debut on Friday night, connecting on both of his field goal attempts, one from 49 yards and one from 50 yards. He was mobbed by teammates on the sideline after making his first kick, and several Lions said after the game that the team enjoys the fresh perspective Rugland brings.
“I think we’re all happy to have him as a teammate,” quarterback Matthew Stafford told the team’s website. “The guy is a great guy. It’s refreshing to see how much fun he’s having. The guy’s having a blast here, and he’s kicking the ball great.”
Added defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, “He’s a great dude. Obviously, his accent is hilarious.”
Rugland still has plenty to learn about the game, and he admitted that after making his first field goal, fellow kicker David Akers had to instruct him to get back on the field for the kickoff.
“I almost forgot my kickoff,” Rugland said. “I was so happy. David said, ‘Hey, you’ve got to kick off.”
Realistically, Rugland probably doesn’t have a very good chance of making the Lions’ 53-man roster. Akers also went 2-for-2 on field goals, connecting from 35 and 47 yards, and if the competition is close, the Lions are going to go with the guy who has 16 years of NFL experience over the guy who had never even put on a football helmet a couple months ago.
But if Rugland keeps kicking this well, the Lions may decide to keep him on their practice squad. Or maybe some other kicker-needy team will pick him up and put him on a 53-man roster. Rugland is good enough to kick in the NFL.