Lions’ quest for Jason Hanson’s replacement enters second season

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The Lions aren’t used to making annual changes at kicker. Of course, the longevity discussion starts with Jason Hanson, who held the job from 1992 through 2012 — a 21-season run. And before Hanson, there was Eddie Murray, who handled the kicking duties for 12 seasons (1980-91).

Now, the Lions are in their second season trying to find a long-term replacement for Hanson. The club drafted Boston College’s Nate Freese in the seventh round in May, and as Hanson told the Detroit News, the rookie likely has an edge over veteran competitor Giorgio Tavecchio owing to that draft status.

“Giorgio is very good, so he’ll push Nate. But obviously if they draft a kid, they’re hoping he can be the guy,” Hanson said in May, according to Josh Katzenstein of the News. “Nate will have to prove that and show that, but I think from just watching him kick and his collegiate stats, he has every chance in the world to do well.”

As a senior, Freese hit all 20 of his field goal attempts, and he connected on at least 88 percent of his field goals in 3-of-4 collegiate seasons. Tavecchio, though, does have a slight NFL experience edge, with a couple of preseason stints to his credit.

The form of both kickers bears watching this summer. According to the News, Freese and Tavecchio each “had their share of struggles” in the spring. Ideally for Freese and Tavecchio, the Lions’ kicker competition comes down to just them — and doesn’t include an as-yet-unsigned veteran challenger.