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With decision looming, Lions punting competition is 'neck and neck'

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

With under a week to go, the Detroit Lions aren't any closer to making a decision on who will be punting for the team when they open the regular season against the Chicago Bears on Sept. 13.

NFL teams are required to trim their rosters from 80 to 53 by next Saturday, giving contenders Jack Fox and undrafted rookie Arryn Siposs another handful of practices to state their case. 

Arryn Siposs (pictured) is in a "neck-and-neck" competition with Jack Fox for the Lions' punting duties.

"Those of you that have been there have seen both of those guys performing at a high level," special-teams coordinator Brayden Coombs said. "We're in a situation right now where it's a good problem to have. To have to try to make a decision between two guys who are really going out and executing consistently at a high level.

"I've joked with both those guys, 'If one of you guys wants to just go out and, you know, really crack under pressure one day and make this easy for me, that'd be great.' But they haven't. They've battled."

Watching practice, Fox looks to have the stronger leg and is more consistent when trying to pin the ball inside the 20, while Siposs has thrived with some of the directional kicks required of the role. 

Coombs said the team is evaluating both in six areas and, to this point, it's been impossibly close. 

"The way that we've been evaluating them, there's probably half-a-dozen categories or so aside from just gut instinct," Coombs said. "I would say of those categories, there're probably four that are almost neck and neck — I mean like almost shockingly similar. Then of the other two, it's kind of split in terms of who's got the edge.

"It's really neck and neck and, obviously, we're getting to the point where we're going to have to make a decision," Coombs said. "They're going to make it really hard on us, so we'll put our heads together. When we have to, we'll decide, but as of now, we've still got another week here for one of those guys to really maybe have the opportunity to separate themselves."

Fox or Siposs will replace Sam Martin, who held the job the past seven seasons before signing with the Denver Broncos as a free agent this past offseason. 

In 2019, the Lions tied for fifth in the league with a 43.6-yard net punting average. That was buoyed by the outstanding performance of a coverage unit that held opponents to 4.5 yards per return, the second-best mark in the NFL. 

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers