Thursday night’s preseason game was the first NFL game action for plenty of Eagles on the roster.
Only one of them is 28 years old.
Australian-born punter Arryn Siposs had been waiting a long time for Thursday night. The Auburn product was a rookie with the Lions in 2020 but last year the preseason was wiped out and then he spent the season on their practice squad.
“He was definitely excited to get the ball rolling,” kicker Jake Elliott said. “It’s obviously been a long time since he’s played in a game. … He really hasn’t gotten a chance to do it. He was really excited to get out there and I think he showed really well obviously.”
It was a pretty good start for Siposs. He had four punts for 223 yards (55.8 average) with a long of 69 with a touchback. He was also the holder for all three of Jake Elliott’s field goal makes from 47, 47 and 50 yards.
No, it wasn’t a perfect debut — his 69 yarder resulted in a touchback — but there was nothing Siposs did on Thursday that would make the Eagles think he can’t be their punter of the future.
The Eagles took a leap of faith with Siposs (6-2, 212 pounds) this offseason. They signed him to a futures deal in January, but that didn’t necessarily mean he was their punter. The Birds tried to re-sign their previous punter Cam Johnston, but he got a very lucrative deal with the Texans. It was a deal the Eagles just couldn’t justify for a punter given their current situation.
So once Johnston left in free agency, Siposs — despite his minimal NFL experience — became the Eagles’ default punter. And they didn’t even bring in any competition for him on their 90-man roster this spring or summer.
“It’s always a good thing when you don’t have any competition but at the same time you have to challenge yourself every day to make sure that no one else comes in to be able to do that role,” Siposs said. “While it’s a great feeling, there’s still plenty of work to be done. I just have to make sure I go out there and work hard every day.”
It might seem curious that the Eagles have simply entrusted Siposs with the job, but he knows as well as anyone that while there might not be another punter in camp, his competition is always just a phone call away.
It has been Siposs’s job to make sure Howie Roseman doesn’t think about picking up the phone.
“We're very happy with what Arryn has been doing, but he's been doing this in the spring,” special teams coordinator Michael Clay said last week. “To get him out here, letting the gunner see the ball where it's going to land, I think has been fantastic. He's only going to get better.
“Nobody is harder on himself than Arryn really in our whole group. Jake, Rick, they’re all hard on each other, but Arryn, he'll keep plugging away and he's been doing a really good job for us lately.”
Siposs moved to the Philadelphia area and began working out with Elliott and long snapper Rick Lovato in April. As all specialists do, the Eagles’ trifecta spends a ton of time together, which is important. That operation needs to be on point between the three of them. So far, it appears that it is.
Siposs is a former Australian rules footballer who went through the Prokick Australia program to begin his career in American football. Prokick Australia has produced several NFL punters like Seattle’s Michael Dickson, San Francisco’s Mitch Wishnowsky and Siposs’s predecessor, Johnston.
Johnston spent just three seasons with the Eagles but holds the career record for gross punting average (47.0), net punting average (41.8), single season gross average (48.2) and single season net average (42.7). Siposs follows his fellow Aussie punters and even reached out to Johnston this offseason.
The biggest difference between Australian rules football and American football? At least for Siposs? Punting with the line of scrimmage in front of you and rushers coming.
“You can go practice by yourself and get yourself into a rhythm. To have some people coming after you, it’s a different beast,” he said. “You need to work on that every single day and I feel confident about it.”
Siposs said he feels lucky that he spent most of last season with the Lions on their practice squad. Most punters who don’t hold roster spots are left to work out on their own and wait by the phone. Even though he didn’t play last season, Siposs had the added advantage of being with an NFL team.
While he obviously lacks NFL and overall football experience, Siposs did at least get to play for a big-time college program at Auburn. In his two season with the Tigers, Siposs punted 117 times and averaged 44.0 yards per punt. He had 21 punts of 50+ yards as well as 33 inside the 20. Believe it or not, his longest college punt was 60 yards, which means he already bested that in his first NFL game.
Even with that experience in college, Siposs knows things are going to be different in the NFL.
“I think there’s always a learning curve,” he said earlier this offseason. “The reality is, I haven’t played a game in the NFL.”
Well, that has changed. One down. The Eagles hope there will be plenty more to go.
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