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2020 Detroit Lions Bubble Watch: Special teams at a stalemate

No punter or long snapper have distanced themselves from the other in training camp.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions face some tough roster questions between now at the 4 p.m. ET cutdown deadline on Saturday. And for the first time in a while, that includes some important decisions on special teams.

With Sam Martin now punting at Mile High, the Lions will have a new punter, holder and kickoff specialist. Throughout all of training camp Jack Fox and Arryn Siposs have been neck-and-neck. Even a trained eye would have a hard time pointing out any major differences in talent between the two.

And then there’s the question of who will be snapping them the ball. Don Muhlbach is still around and has to be considered the favorite. However, Father Time is undefeated, and the Lions have a legit option in rookie Steven Wirtel.

So for one final time before the roster cuts start coming in, our Pride of Detroit staff made their predictions for the two specialist spots for the Lions’ 2020 season.

Final Bubble Watch: Special teams

Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen John Whiticar TOTAL Change
Player Jeremy Reisman Ryan Mathews Mike Payton Hamza Alex Reno Andrew Kato Mansur Shaheen John Whiticar TOTAL Change
LS Don Muhlbach IN IN IN IN IN IN IN IN 8 0
P Jack Fox IN IN IN IN IN IN IN OUT 7 -1

Punter battle

Jack Fox - 7 of 8 votes
Arryn Siposs - 1 of 8 votes

This is the only place we’ve seen some movement among our staff. Arryn Siposs won John over, but the reality is a lot closer than this may suggest. Don’t take it from me. Take it from special teams coordinator Brayden Coombs:

“The way we’ve been evaluating them, there’s probably half a dozen categories or so, aside from just gut instinct. And I would say of those categories, there’s probably four that are almost neck and neck, I mean, like almost shockingly similar and then of the other two, it’s kind of split in terms of whose got the edge. It’s really neck and neck and obviously we’re getting to a point here where we’re going to have to make a decision and they’re going to make it really hard on us.”

The only reason I think the staff is heavily leaning Jack Fox is simply because he seems to be repping first in camp. However, that can certainly be misleading, especially when each are getting about equal reps during practice.

Long snapper battle

Don Muhlbach - 8 of 8 votes
Steven Wirtel - 0 of 8 votes

No one on the staff has dared to cross Don Muhlbach—except Chris Perfett on the latest PODcast. And while head coach Matt Patricia tried to paint the long-snapping battle as somewhat even, it’s hard not to read his words and see him favoring the veteran long snapper over Wirtel.

“Muhl certainly—he actually has a background in this system from before. And definitely ) Wirtel is out there competing. Those guys are doing a great job. Muhl has been a steady rock for us for a long time, so it’s a good competition to have when you have two good players.”

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