Patriots Insider asked Jacksonville Jaguars expert Charlie Bernstein about the capability of newly acquired punter Chris Hanson who spent six seasons with the Jaguars (2001-06). Here's what Charlie had to say about Hanson's time in Jacksonville, the impact he could have for New England and what he's seen in the player since he's been covering the Jaguars.
Chris Hanson arrived in Jacksonville via free agency in 2001, and was the Jaguars starting punter for most of six years, only missing time in 2003 when he had a freak ax injury in the locker room (the Jaguars no longer have any kind of dangerous outdoor equipment in their locker room) that caused him to miss most of that season, as he nearly chopped his leg off.
Hanson was a solid, consistent punter before the injury, highlighted by his career year in 2002 when he averaged 44.2 yards per punt, and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl. After the freak injury, Hanson's numbers steadily declined until he hit an all time low in 2006. Hanson finished 2006, 30th in the league with just 40.6 yards per punt average. Soon after the season ended, the Jaguars cleaned house in the special teams department, as they fired special teams coordinator Pete Rodriguez, and released Hanson a couple days after the draft, after they spent a fourth-round pick on punter Adam Podlesh from Maryland. I'm not sure how effective Hanson can still be. His leg strength wasn't very good last year, and he has now been released twice in the last four months.
Patriots Insider Take: Hanson has experience punting in big situations and although his distance has declined, his consistency is the draw at this point. It's possible Hanson just had an off year in 2006, but any signs of an early struggle could put the Patriots back into the search for a punter who can hold down the job.
With all of the names hitting the waiver wire, there are a number of bodies in the mix if Hanson doesn't work out. At this point it looks like the Patriots may have been a bit premature in letting Josh Miller go.
Charlie Bernstein is the Editor-in-Chief of Jagnation.com, and a regular syndicated contributor to FoxSports.com, Sirius NFL Radio, and Sportsillustated.com. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers Association, and is a columnist for the New Smyrna Observer.
Poll: Did Patriots make a mistake letting Miller go?