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the NFC Central
Jill Lieber
October 04, 1993
SACKED IN CHICAGO
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October 04, 1993

The Nfc Central

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Although he's the fourth-highest-paid player on the team—and the Bucs have the worst rushing offense in the NFL—Workman hasn't been able to crack the lineup. In a 47-17 loss to the Bears on Sunday, he had one carry for eight yards and caught two passes for 14 more.

Workman's situation is definitely not what the Tampa Bay marketing department had in mind when it created this slogan for 1993: More bang for the Bucs.

KICKING UP A STORM

Lost in all the commotion over the accuracy of kickers this season have been the contributions of Lion ace Jason Hanson. The second-year kicker from Washington State, where he was the best long-range booter in NCAA history, with 20 field goals of 50 or more yards, has been the most important offensive and defensive force for Detroit in '93. In four games he has scored 42 points, including a 38-yard game-winning field goal in overtime to beat New England, and 16 of his 22 kick-offs have led to touchbacks. Because of his outstanding performance in the season opener against Atlanta—he was three for three in both field goals and PATs, and all seven of his kickoffs produced touchbacks—the NFL created a new awards category: the Special Teams Player of the Week.

In his rookie season Hanson was 21 for 26 in field goals, and he was the only NFL kicker not to miss from inside the 45. So, how good can Hanson be? Well, the sky's the limit. First of all, Hanson has the advantage of playing a minimum of nine games each season in optimum conditions (eight home games in the Pontiac Silverdome and one in the Metrodome). Second, he has fanatical special teams coach-kicking guru Frank Gansz as his mentor. And last but not least, Hanson is levelheaded and mature, a far cry from the typical head-case kicker. "I don't want to be the 'flaky kicker,' " he says. "I don't want to miss and then come over and have to play with my teddy bear because of the pressure."

A clean-cut boy scout type with a zoology degree (3.68 GPA) who hopes to become a doctor, Hanson approaches kicking as a science, dissecting each nuance of his mechanics and spending hours sharpening his mental focus. Because his balance while kicking depends on strong stomach muscles, Hanson, who kicks with his right foot, makes it a point to do hundreds of different kinds of sit-ups each week, with an emphasis on the left side of his torso. "I do everything else with my right side," he says, "so I try to keep a good balance."

In the locker room following pregame warmups Hanson always tightens the laces on his right shoe because he has found that practice kicks and body heat stretch the leather ever so slightly. "I don't want a shoe with any give," Hanson says. "I want to slam the ball off a solid surface, something that's superhard."

Right now, super is an apt word for Hanson.

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