As we start to look ahead to training camp, we're going to take a position-by-position look at the Detroit Lions roster. Last up are the specialists.
Back from last season: Don Muhlbach
New to the team: David Akers, Havard Rugland, Sam Martin, Blake Clingan
The only Lions specialist back from last season is Pro Bowl long snapper Don Muhlbach. Kicker Jason Hanson retired after spending 21 seasons with the Lions, whereas punter Nick Harris wasn't re-signed after a disappointing 2012.
To replace Hanson, the Lions decided to sign veteran David Akers. Last we heard he was still recovering from offseason surgery, but he is expected to be the Lions' new starter. Detroit did add Havard Rugland (also known as "Kickalicious"), but considering he is brand new to American football, it would be a major upset if he beats out Akers.
At punter, the Lions signed Blake Clingan, who is also new to the NFL. They then picked Sam Martin from Appalachian State in the fifth round of the draft in April. Considering the Lions spent a draft pick on Martin, he is the clear favorite to become their starting punter.
Need going forward?
Barring an injury, there doesn't appear to be any need at kicker, punter or long snapper. However, if a kicker or punter struggles mightily in training camp and the preseason, the Lions could look to make a switch by bringing in somebody new before the regular season. Although Akers and Martin are the heavy favorites to start, the Lions still want to have an actual competition at these positions. So if Rugland and Clingan aren't getting the job done, don't be surprised if changes are made during camp.