The kicking game is a mess right now. First, Jason Hanson wasn’t able to practice Wednesday due to an injury he sustained in the bye week. The injury was severe enough for him to get stitches in his knee. When the Lions had Ryan Donahue kick some field goals, he strained his quad. On Sunday, the Lions may be without their regular kicker and punter. Bad timing considering the Lions are playing the Bears and Devin Hester, the best returner in the history of the NFL. These two injuries can definitely be game-changer.
Jason Hanson was able to kick a little bit in today’s practice but is still far from perfect. Below are some answers Hanson gave to the media’s questions today.
Was it an ATV accident that caused your injury?
Here is the official word. I cut my left knee with my family. I have some stitches in it. Honestly, I don’t remember how many. A decent little cut. The point is this, everybody at the Lions knows every detail of what happened. I don’t feel like I was irresponsible. I didn’t think I was putting myself at any risk. I was with my kids, so the actual details, the Lions know and I’m not saying. I don’t feel like I’m hiding anything. It’s just that I don’t feel like telling the whole story to everybody. Other than that, I hope to be ready for this week’s game. It’s terrible timing. I can’t believe that it happened. Again, I said this to everyone at the Lions, I’m super sorry. Terrible week for this to happen, but my guilt level is pretty low as far as I didn’t feel like I was doing anything to hurt the team. That’s where it stands. I kicked a little bit today. It felt decent. Tomorrow we’ll be able to tell if I can be up for this week.
Are your stitches the issue?
It’s a matter of can everything hold together, pain and that kind of stuff. I passed a test today. It’s not the official one, but I kicked pretty good today.
The Lions have worked out Rhys Lloyd and Shayne Graham as possible replacements for Hanson on Sunday. Lloyd has been in the NFL for four years as a kicker on kickoffs but has never attempted a field goal or PAT in his career. Graham is an eleven-year veteran and made the Pro Bowl back in 2005. However, Graham has not attempted a field goal this whole year.
As for the punting game, the Lions have worked out Glenn Pakulak, Robert Malone, and Matt Dodge in case Donahue isn’t able to play against the Bears. Pakulak hasn’t punted since 2009, Malone punted for the Bucs last year but nothing this year, and Dodge also hasn’t punted since last year (you might also remember Dodge for being the guy that punted to DeSean Jackson last year when he wasn’t supposed too. Jackson took it back for a TD with no time left in the game and it cost the Giants a playoff berth).
As you can tell by all this, the Lions are in trouble if Donahue and Hanson aren’t ready to play. A new kicker, who hasn’t done anything all season, may not be able to kick it out of the end zone and give Hester a golden opportunity. The same goes for the punter if it isn’t Donahue. I expect Jim Schwartz and the Lions to be more aggressive this week when it comes to fourth down.