As if matters couldn’t grow any more bleak, the closest thing that the Lions could cling to as a constant upon their entire roster, K Jason Hanson, will miss the remainder of the season, due to a knee injury.
In Hanson’s nineteen seasons, he had previously only missed one game. This season he will only have kicked in eight of the Lions 16 games. However, during his brief season, he converted 12 of 14 field goal attempts, as well as being perfect on all 16 of his PAT’s.
The Lions now need to be able to depend upon journeymen K Dave Rayner, who in his brief time as a Lion, has missed two out of his first six field goal attempts.
Many Lions fans have grown weary of Hanson’s future, as his kickoffs have become shorter and his consistent performance has become less of a foregone conclusion than it once was.
The only response that I have to those who doubt Hanson is, be careful what you wish for. As the season marches on, and Dave Rayner is called upon to make a field goal(s) late in the game, the Lions will likely miss Hanson dearly. Hanson has been an elite kicker throughout his career, will Rayner be able to match him?
Hanson indicated that he plans on continuing his career:
I am not going to disappear,” he said, hours after the Lions placed him injured reserve, effectively ending his 19th season. “It’s hard during the season to start thinking about next year, but I have to. I am going to get healthy and get ready to prove myself again next spring.“
The Lions also received some slightly encouraging news regarding Shaun Hill. Hill’s injury, although worrisome, may not sideline the quick-healing Hill for the remainder of the season.
Hill has every intention of returning to the field, before the season’s end. Depending upon the performance of Drew Stanton (and a potential return to health for Matthew Stafford), Hill’s return might not be able to come a moment to soon.
Amid a four game losing streak, the Lions season is continuingly charting an alarmingly undesirable course. The Lions could be compelled to return Stafford to the field, but would be much more prudent to rush Hill, if they have got a choice.
Hill has lead the team admirably. As much as I hope that Drew Stanton flourishes, and proves to have future value for the Lions (or elsewhere), there are worse things than having to call upon Hill, as he has proven.