Hanson Kicks-Off Friday; Likely To Play

ALLEN PARK -- They might not know with absolute certainty until they get to Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, but it appears the Lions will get kicker Jason Hanson back for the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Hanson, who suffered a slight tear in his right hamstring in the season opener against Green Bay and sat out the second game of the season, kicked both during Wednesday, Thursday and Friday's practice sessions and was no worse for wear afterward.

On Friday, Hanson demonstrated the strength in his leg, nailing several kick-offs.

"There's a good chance," said Lions' head coach Steve Mariucci on Friday. "We have to make sure that he's feeling alright tomorrow after kicking off. He took a short approach but he kicked very well."

If Hanson cannot kick - or if he is unable to handle kickoffs - the Lions will probably activate rookie Remy Hamilton from the practice squad.

Hamilton filled in for Hanson in the Lions' game Sept. 18 at Chicago and had an extra point attempt blocked but was adequate on kickoffs.

Mariucci doesn't want to take a chance on re-injuring Hanson after investing three weeks (including the bye last week) in his recovery. The 14-year NFL veteran has been a model of consistency on kickoffs, extra points and field goals and the Lions would clearly miss him if he were to miss additional time.

Hanson did virtually no kicking from the day he was injured until Wednesday, when the Lions medical team cleared him to begin practicing short field goals and extra points. His longest field goal attempts were no more than 35 yards. On Thursday, he moved back to 44 yards with no adverse effects. On Friday, he was kicking down the field.

Mariucci said he probably would not make a decision on whether to activate Hamilton for kickoffs until Saturday, when the Lions leave for Tampa.

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