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Week 2 Bubble Watch: Who’s leading the special teams roster battles?

Is Don Muhlbach’s job safe? Who will be the Lions’ punter in 2020?

New York Giants v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Earlier in the week, we broke down the roster battles and the bubble players both on offense and on defense. But that’s not the only place where there are significant roster battles happening on the Detroit Lions.

For the first time in a long time, the Lions’ specialists are anything but set for the 2020 season. While kicker Matt Prater is running unopposed—and rightfully so—Detroit’s punter and long snapper for the upcoming season have yet to be determined.

Longtime long snapper Don Muhlbach is the favorite to keep his job, but the man is only getting older, and this year the Lions brought in Steve Wirtel—one of three finalists for college’s best long snapper of 2019. He’s no slouch.

And at punter, there is no incumbent. Detroit will have a new punter this year: either Jack Fox or Arryn Siposs. Both provide intriguing options, but neither have any true NFL experience.

So we, again, tapped our staff to see what their thoughts are on the two special teams camp battles one week into training camp.

Bubble Watch Week 2: Special teams

Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen John Whiticar Total
Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen John Whiticar Total
LS Don Muhlbach IN IN IN Forever IN IN IN IN IN 8
LS Steven Wirtel OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0
P Jack Fox IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8
P Arryn Siposs OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT 0

Well, that was simple.

The staff unanimously believes Don Muhlbach keeps his job at long snapper, while Jack Fox emerges victorious in #PUNTERBATTLE2020.

To be fair, there are good reasons behind this unanimity. Muhlbach has been steady throughout camp, and he provides the one thing that is absolutely necessary at long snapper: consistency. Wirtel has been good and getting enough reps to believe this is a legitimate competition, but it’s still very much Muhlbach’s job to lose.

The punter battle, however, is much closer than our votes suggest. On Sunday, the Lions had a punter competition to end practice. While it was Arryn Siposs who emerged victorious, reports from camp suggest it was nearly even. The things that may have the Pride of Detroit staff convinced is the fact that Fox has regularly been the first punter taking reps and the first one holding the ball during field goal reps. Order of reps aren’t everything, but they aren’t nothing, either.

With no preseason to judge game-like situations, it’s going to be hard for any of us to really judge from afar who is leading this competition, but I do think both jobs are not nearly as decided as our poll would suggest.