MSU’s Dave Rayner takes aim at winning Lions’ kicking job

Tim Twentyman/ The Detroit News

Beverly Hills — The Lions tendered an original-round (sixth) contract to kicker Dave Rayner before the lockout.

Rayner made 13 of his 16 field-goal attempts last year in place of the injured Jason Hanson.

The contract offer is an insurance policy for the Lions in case Hanson can’t shake his injury woes of the last two seasons.

Hanson, one of the most accurate and consistent kickers in NFL history, has had two knee surgeries the last two seasons. He missed the final eight games last year and there’s no telling how his 40-year-old body will bounce back from his latest surgery.

But Rayner, who is from Michigan State, isn’t interested in keeping a starting spot warm or being an insurance policy for Hanson. Rayner is heading to camp with plans to win the job outright.

“I definitely have the utmost respect for Jason,” he said after a team workout at Detroit Country Day on Thursday. “But at the same time, I’m brought here for a reason and I’m going to try to win the job and see what happens from there.

“I did a nice job at the end of the year. I did enough to impress the coaches and management. With Jason getting hurt and getting up there in age, and some speculation whether he’ll be able to come back, I think they maybe are thinking long-term. I hope they’re looking long-term.”

As much as Hanson has meant to the Lions organization — he’s the team’s all-time leading scorer and longest-tenured player — he can’t play forever.

Rayner was a sixth-round pick by the Colts in 2005; the Lions are Rayner’s sixth NFL team. After the Colts, Rayner played for the Packers, Chargers, Chiefs and Bengals and was out of football in 2009 before joining the Lions.

“Hopefully, I’m the next guy,” Rayner said. “I don’t think I can try and fill (Hanson’s) shoes. I think that’s where guys get in trouble. I’m going to go in and try to do what I can do and hopefully be successful at my game. If I can have half the career he’s had, I’ll be happy.”

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