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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kicker Steve Hauschka impresses Lions



BY CARLOS MONARREZ

August 25, 2010

Lions kicker Steve Hauschka had an impressive game Saturday in Denver. He converted four field-goal attempts and showed off a strong leg by booting seven kickoffs into the end zone for six touchbacks.

Coach Jim Schwartz praised Hauschka on Monday,
but he doesn't want to expend a valuable roster spot on a second kicker and tempered the enthusiasm about Hauschka, who is filling in while Jason Hanson recovers from knee surgery.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Schwartz said. "A lot of people have kicked balls deep in Denver. Steve's got a strong leg. He's got good leverage. He's got that little Ernie Els kick, where he doesn't look like he's giving it his all, but the ball carries on him. He sort of smoothes it.

"I'd like to see Jason healthy and hitting his kickoffs and feeling good about that, but theoretically, we could (keep Hauschka)."

Hauschka spent the past two seasons with Baltimore and has a career-long field goal of 54 yards. He said he would be happy to be a kickoff specialist, especially considering he hasn't been a kicker long.

Hauschka didn't play football until his roommate at Division III Middlebury College in Vermont -- safety Scott Secor of Lake Odessa -- talked him into trying out. He won the kicking and punting job while completing a neuroscience degree.

Encouraged, Hauschka enrolled at North Carolina State in 2007 as a graduate student, studied parks and recreation and kicked the winning 42-yard field goal to beat Miami (Fla.), 19-16, in overtime. He was carried off the field at the Orange Bowl.

Former Hurricanes offensive tackle Jason Fox barely remembered Hauschka. But ex-Miami safety Randy Phillips did -- with a little help from roommate and former Wolfpack defensive end Willie Young.

"Willie brought it to my attention that that was him who was doing that kicking," Phillips said. "Yeah, they rubbed it in on me. In fact, they was in my room when I got in there Friday. I was like, 'Who is this?' Oh, yeah, that's the kicker from N.C. State that sealed the deal on y'all."

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