Standout Lions Rookie Snagged By Division Rival 1 Day After Being Waived

Dan Campbell Craig James

Getty Head coach Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions waived injured defensive back Craig James on June 11.

Rookie kicker James Turner had some impressive performances in early practices with the Detroit Lions, but ultimately lost his spot on the roster when the team landed the UFL’s top kicker.

Now, Turner is continuing his NFL journey with one of Detroit’s division rivals.

As Bill Huber of’s Packer Central reported on June 21, the Green Bay Packers claimed Turner off waivers after he was waived by the Lions. Turner is expected to compete for the starting job in Green Bay, while the Lions are gearing up for a summer competition that will decide who handles kicking duties next season.

Rookie Kicker’s Short Tenure in Detroit

Turner, an undrafted rookie out of Michigan, had earned some buzz at practices in Detroit. Mike Moraitis of The Sporting News predicted he would win the starting job after outkicking Michael Badgley in practices.

“Things have heated up in the kicker competition after Turner got the best of Michael Badgley during one of the sessions,” Moraitis wrote on June 11. “By all accounts, we haven’t seen Badgley get the better of the rookie yet, so the Michigan product is in a great position to grab the job ahead of training camp.”

Turner showed off his strong leg at practices, hitting kicks from 56 and 55 yards. He was squeezed out when the Lions signed Bates, the All-UFL Team kicker, to a two-year deal that ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported was worth $1.98 million.

Bates also earned plenty of buzz during the UFL season. As Joseph Buczek of CBS Detroit noted, the Michigan Panthers kicker connected on a 64-yard field goal at Ford Field in his team’s Week 1 win over the St. Louis Battlehawks. Bates made three kicks from beyond 60 yards during the UFL season.

The Lions now head toward next month’s training camp preparing for a competition between Badgley and Bates for the starting job. Special teams coach Dave Fipp said it will truly be an open competition, with performance in preseason games and practices factoring into the final decision.

“It’s really, I have a responsibility to be fair to all them by playing whoever we think is the best player,” Fipp said, via “And, with a kicker, it’s pretty clear. I mean, makes and misses and percentages. And, I do think that practice matters, and I do think that players trend towards what their practice stuff is.”

James Turner Faces Plenty of Competition in Green Bay

Turner will now face an even more competitive situation in Green Bay, with Huber noting that the Packers are up to four kickers this offseason. As Huber added, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia joked that the Packers could bring in six different kickers to compete for the job.

“It might be those three. It might be three other ones. I don’t know. It might be six,” Bisaccia said. “We’re appreciative of (general manager) Brian (Gutekunst) getting it to the point where it’s at right now, having a three-man competition. We’ll see how long we can keep that going. There’s some things going on in a bunch of different leagues, so we’re going to keep investigating to try to end up with the best player we possibly can.”

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