Originally written July 04, 2013 on Fox Sports Detroit:
The Detroit Lions really couldn't have done much better finding an experienced replacement for kicker Jason Hanson than with the addition of David Akers, provided one thing: That Akers is healthy. A year ago, he wasn't and ended up having the worst season of his career before getting released by San Francisco. "I can't even describe the bizarre year that it was," Akers said. "I definitely want to show people that was a fluke." In 2011, Akers had a career year when he made 44 of his 52 field-goal attempts (84.6 percent), including 7-of-9 from 50-or-more yards. He had to undergo surgery for a double hernia before last season, but appeared to be fully recovered when he tied the NFL record with a 63-yarder at Green Bay in the opening week. "I thought, 'Man, this is going to be another awesome year,'" Akers said. "But a couple weeks later, I slipped and fell at practice (on a wet field). I really didn't think much of it that day. The next day, I had some pain in kind of the area where I had surgery. It kept bothering me all year long. I was just trying to fight through it." Akers hit his first six attempts last year but then made just 23 of his final 36 (63.8 percent) during the regular season. Amid rumors that he might get benched for the postseason, Akers bounced back and was 3-for-3 in the 49ers' Super Bowl loss to Baltimore. "We were doing so great as a team," Akers said. "I was so proud of being a Niner. To have such a horrible personal season was very discouraging. Nobody wants to go out like that." Akers underwent another procedure in February to try to resolve the problem. He worked out during the Lions' off-season program but did little kicking. If he's back to full strength by the Sept. 8 opener against Minnesota, the Lions won't miss his predecessor. This will be the first time since 1992 that Detroit will go into a season without the Hanson as its kicker. He had a 21-year career marked by consistency before deciding to retire at age 42 because of a nagging foot injury and a low-ball contract offer from the Lions. Hanson made 495-of-601 field-goal attempts (82.4 percent) during his career, including 52-of-93 from 50 yards (55.9 percent). Akers, 38, can't quite match those numbers, but he doesn't have to apologize for his success rate. He's made 367-of-453 field goals (81 percent), including 24-of-47 from 50 yards (51.1 percent). There's no comparison, however, in their postseason resumes. Akers is 39-of-47 (83 percent) in 24 games. Hanson was 3-for-4 in six games. "I'm not trying to replace Jason," Akers said. "I've had a great career of my own. I don't feel like I need to hang on someone else's coattails. "I have the utmost respect for him. Those are guys, in my position, you look up to. You don't replace them." After spending so much of his career kicking in nasty weather in Philadelphia and then the windy conditions the last two seasons in San Francisco, Akers is looking forward to getting indoors to play for a team with a dome. Hanson certainly benefitted throughout his career by playing so many games at the Silverdome for the first 10 years and then Ford Field over the last 11. "I can't blame it on the wind, you know," Akers said, smiling. "I can't say, 'Somebody opened the door.'"
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