Locker room prop costs Jaguars their punter

Updated: October 9, 2003, 7:33 PM ET

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Chris Hanson swung and missed.

No, not at a ball he was trying to kick, but at the wood he was trying to chop.

The Jaguars punter needed surgery to close up a gash on his right, non-kicking, leg Thursday after he miscalibrated while using an ax to hack at the massive tree stump that coach Jack Del Rio placed in the locker room a few weeks ago.

Del Rio used the stump as a symbol for the mantra he has adopted for the Jaguars (1-4) this season: "Keep chopping wood."

Hanson took the message literally, and wound up being rushed to the hospital, where he received several stitches, team spokesman Dan Edwards said. Hanson's leg will be in a boot for four to six weeks, and the team hasn't decided whether to place him on injured reserve, Edwards said.

Beginning with Sunday's game against Miami, Jacksonville's only Pro Bowl player from last season will be replaced by Mark Royals, who was cut earlier this year by the Dolphins.

The accident happened while position players were in meetings.

"Specialists have more free time on their hands," Del Rio explained.

After the team fell to 0-3, Del Rio had the tree stump placed in the middle of the locker room, set atop a plastic tarp, and equipped with an ax planted in the base of the log. The stump and ax remained in the room over the last two weeks, and every now and then, players would hack away, spraying wood chips all about the teal carpeting.

On Thursday, when the media was allowed into the locker room, the stump was still there, albeit much worse for wear. The ax, meanwhile, was gone. Asked what happened to the ax, several players just shook their heads and smiled.

Del Rio opened his daily news conference by saying Hanson suffered an accident. Asked what kind of accident, he said it was "a locker room accident." Pressed further, Del Rio acknowledged it was with the ax.

Thus marked a bad ending to a pretty decent motivational idea. After Jacksonville's bad start, the first-year coach insisted to the team to "keep chopping wood," telling the players that hard work was the only way to solve their problems.

"The message was understood," he said. The log, he said, "was symbolic more than anything else. The thing was on its way out, but just not soon enough."

This isn't the first time Hanson has been injured in an unconventional manner.

In June 2002, Hanson, his wife and former Jaguars kicker Jaret Holmes were severely burned while they were making fondue at Hanson's house, and the fondue pot overturned.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index