The Detroit Lions have one of the most storied histories among NFL teams, and special teams play has been one of their biggest calling cards in recent decades.
The kicking game and the return game alike have been strengths for the team despite its overall struggles, as many of the top special teams performers in the game have starred for the Allen Park, Michigan based franchise.
Past Lions special teams stars include the team’s all-time leading scorer, former kicker Jason Hanson, kicker returner Mel Farr (aka ‘The Superstar), wide receiver/kick returner Mel Gray, and former fan favorite Matt Prater, the kicker with the booming leg and outsized personality.
The Lions may have two new special teams stars on their hands after their Week 15 victory over the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium last week, however: returner Khalif Raymond and kicker Michael Badgley.
Raymond took a punt 47 yards to the house this past Sunday in what was one of the most stunning and significant plays of the year for the Lions.
According to LionsWire, Raymond is the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts, including the return show below.
Khalif Raymond 0-60 in a blink…
— Oliver Hodgkinson (@ojhodgkinson) December 18, 2022
Raymond was undrafted in 2016 and has played for seven different teams, but seems to have found a home on Dan Campbell’s Lions.
His gritty play, speed and vision with the ball in his hands have made him a low-key favorite target of quarterback Jared Goff.
Raymond, who played his college ball at Holy Cross, has 39 receptions for 454 yards on the season for an average of 11.6 yards per reception.
His ability to catch the ball and move the sticks, or at least put the Lions in a good position for the next down, has made him an invaluable safety valve in Ben Johnson’s passing game this year. Raymond ranks second to fellow receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown among the Lions’ top receiving yards leaders this year.
Raymond also had five catches for 56 yards in Sunday’s contest, earning him a game ball from Jason McCourty, the former NFL cornerback and NFL analyst, as shown in the video below.
Undrafted in 2016
7 different teams
Now taking home a game ball! pic.twitter.com/VubNGUicUn
— Jason McCourty (@JasonMcCourty) December 19, 2022
Badgley Also Starring on Special Teams
Kicker Michael Badgley also exemplifies the Lions’ new era in the special teams game.
At age 27, Badgley has become one of the better young kickers in the league, making 19-of-22 field goals on the season with a long of 53 as well as 24-24 extra points.
He has earned Campbell’s confidence, as shown in the press conference clip below.
"I've got a lot of faith in him."
-Dan Campbell on Michael Badgley pic.twitter.com/nWRE6NFxMV
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 4, 2022
Lions new kicker Michael Badgley has arrived at Allen Park. His nickname… "The Money Badger." ? #OnePride pic.twitter.com/XLQvCOIQFb
— Woodward Sports Network (@woodwardsports) October 5, 2022
Learn more about Raymond and his inspirational story in the video below from the Detroit Lions YouTube Channel.