The start of the Jaguars' offseason conditioning program dawned with Chris Hanson champing at the bit for the start of a new season.
"Not a great year last year," Hanson said. "I played most of the year injured, which took away a lot of consistency."
A hamstring injury he sustained in week four of the season, in Washington, never went away. It dogged him the rest of the season and its effect was made unmistakable by Hanson's finish at the bottom of the NFL's net-punting stats. His 33.4 net made for a long, cold winter.
"It was something I dealt with all season long. I'm ready to go; a whole new attitude," said Hanson. "More positive; going out there and having fun, like I used to."
This spring and summer, Hanson will no doubt have to deal with competition. The Jaguars have already signed punter Tony Yelk to push Hanson. There will be others, too, Hanson knows.
"I'm playing with an X on my back. I'm up there in years and money-wise and didn't play well last year," Hanson said. "I'm not going to back down from challenges. I've never backed down from challenges."
He's overcome adversity in the past. The Jaguars claimed him off waivers from the Dolphins in 2001 and Hanson posted an impressive 37.1 net average. He improved to 37.6 in 2002 and was elected to the Pro Bowl as the AFC's best punter in gross and net average.
His 2003 season ended early due to a freakish locker room accident. Hanson bounced back with solid performances in '04 and '05.
He had been wandering the halls of Jacksonville Municipal Stadium in the days leading up to the start of offseason conditioning. Clearly, a new season couldn't begin soon enough for Hanson.
"I'm not going to baby it. It's fully healed," he said of his left hamstring injury. "I want to be the best punter in the league; know what I have to be to help this team out."
Hanson, kicker Josh Scobee, long-snapper Joe Zelenka and the rest of the Jaguars special teams have a new coach this year. Joe DeCamillis replaces Pete Rodriguez as the Jaguars special teams coordinator.
"We're excited. He brings a lot of energy. All three of us are excited to have him here," Hanson said of DeCamillis.