For the first time in several years, the Detroit Lions will have a punter camp battle in training camp this year. And with new special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs in charge of the unit, it will be one of the most important duties for the first-time coordinator.
It won’t be easy decision, either. Both competitors, Jack Fox and former Australian Football League’s Arryn Siposs, have never kicked a punt at the NFL level. Regardless, Coombs is eager to see the competition play out.
“I’m really excited about it, really excited about both of those guys,” Coombs said in a Zoom conference over the weekend.
Perhaps the more interesting candidate for the job is Siposs. Coming from Aussie rules football, his skillset is a little different than your average kicker.
“As a general thing with the Aussie guys, they have the ability—just kind of naturally the way they come up playing that sport—to do all kinds of different kicks,” Coombs explained. “It’s not necessarily just the typical spiral punts or the typical ‘end over end’ what we call in the plus 50 (yard line). They can do all kinds of things.”
Additionally, Coombs has already played at a professional level in Australia. He spent four seasons with the St Kilda Football Club. That experience could give him the edge in what appears to be a pretty even match.
“The biggest bonus from that is that he’s played professional sports,” Coomb said. “I know he’s ready for the moment when it comes.”
But Coombs also made sure not to count out Fox. While Siposs may come with a bag of tricks, American kickers are starting to take notice—including Fox—and add some more variety to their arsenal of punts.
“A lot of the guys here in the U.S. are starting to learn those things at a younger age. So Jack has a lot of tricks in his bag too,” Coombs said.
However, the biggest challenge for Fox, Siposs and Coombs will be proper evaluation in a shortened offseason. With no preseason, it will be hard for Fox and Siposs to truly prove they can do something they’ve never done before: punt at the NFL level. Still, Coombs believes he can create a competitive environment without the benefit of exhibition games.
“We’re going to find ways to make it hyper competitive in practice and put them under competitive situations and we’ll see who rises to the top,” Coombs said. “I’m really, really excited for both of those guys.”