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Kickers under the gun


Hayden Epstein is out, Tim Seder is in and Chris Hanson isn't on especially firm ground. That's the state of the Jaguars kicking game today.

"We're not going to be real patient," coach Tom Coughlin told reporters today of his expectations for Seder, who was signed to replace Epstein as the team's placekicker. "I'd like to see the performance this weekend be what we're looking for," Coughlin added.

Epstein earned his ticket out of town by missing from 39 yards in Baltimore this past Sunday, and by consistently dropping his kickoffs near the 10-yard line. Epstein's lack of development eroded Coughlin's confidence in his seventh-round draft choice, and Coughlin said he knew Sunday night he had to make a move at the position.

But Coughlin didn't stop at the placekicking position in his criticism of his special teams. Hanson, the AFC's third-ranked gross-average punter, saw his net average drop to 35.4 with an atypically poor performance in Baltimore. One punt especially, a boot from the Ravens 31-yard line that sailed into the end zone, caused Coughlin to express his dissatisfaction to Hanson this week.

"Chris knows I'm not pleased with what happened last weekend and it's got to improve," Coughlin said.

"I wasn't happy with myself," Hanson said today. "I'm supposed to be a weapon on this team and it's got to get better from here. I didn't give (the defense) the field position they deserved. I take all criticism as trying to improve. Without criticism, you relax. I take it as a motivational tool."

Seder will handle the placekicking and kickoff chores. Coughlin said the former Cowboys kicker has the leg strength to do both, and that Seder's "got a strong enough leg to consider any distance.

"We've had him here twice (for workouts). I liked his kickoffs as well as his field goal accuracy," Coughlin added of Seder.

"The idea was to bring (Epstein) along and there would be constant improvement. I felt he could do the job," Coughlin said of his decision this summer to keep Epstein and not sign Seder.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis' loss in Pittsburgh Monday night has sent a signal to the Jaguars that the AFC South title is up for grabs. Coughlin used Monday night's result to reinforce that fact during his address to his players today.

"Everyone's packed in there close, including the Texans and certainly Tennessee," Coughlin said.

The Jaguars host the expansion Texans this Sunday, beginning a favorable four-game stretch that will see the Jaguars host the Redskins on Nov. 10 and face the Texans in Houston on Nov. 17.

"We need to be 4-3. We talked about it today.

What happened Monday night gives us a chance," quarterback Mark Brunell said, referring to the one game by which the Jaguars trail the Colts in the division standings. "It's anybody's division with a lot of football to be played."

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