PHILADELPHIA - If you’re an old-school professional wrestling fan, you might remember legendary play-by-play man Gordon Solie describing the Briscos vs. the Funks as an Australian tag-team match.
That’s because that type of encounter is perceived to have originated down-under.
The Eagles might be ready to embrace their own Aussie tag-team of sorts as Cameron Johnston tags in Arryn Siposs to be the Eagles' punter after Johnston inked a big-money deal (for a punter) in Houston.
To those on the outside looking in, Philadelphia’s embrace of its new punter comes with uncertainty.
To those in the NFL, however, Siposs, 28, was getting a job somewhere after dueling with Jack Fox last summer in Detroit and giving the second-team All-Pro a run for his money.
Even though the Lions quickly figured out they had one of the best punters in football, with Fox averaging an awe-inspiring 49.1 yards per punt with a net average of 44.8, both franchise records, they still kept Siposs around on the practice squad for a good portion of the season.
Part of that was a COVID-19 contingency and the result of more liberal roster rules but it also alerted the rest of the NFL that the Lions had a second roster-ready punter.
Fox is just 24 and about to enter his third pro season so Siposs, who remains good friends with Fox and still works out with him, understood his path had to be elsewhere and signed a futures deal in Philadelphia back in January.
When Johnston left in free agency, many expected the Eagles to bring in competition for Siposs but that hasn’t materialized to date so it’s Siposs’ job to lose moving forward.
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A Melbourne native, Siposs played in the Australian Football League for a lengthy period (2010 to 2015) before shifting gears and working with ProKick Australia to learn American football, the same route Johnston took before matriculating at Ohio State and ultimately dueling with veteran Donnie Jones before finally getting the keys to the punting job with the Eagles.
For Siposs, it was the SEC - specifically Auburn - as his launching pad where he averaged 44.0 yards per punt over two seasons, including 21 punts of 50-plus yards and 33 that landed inside the 20.
Coupling leg strength with directional skills is what every special teams coordinator is looking for in a punter.
“I try to make sure that I put [the football] in the right spot every time,” Siposs said. “The game has kind of changed to where punting has become a little bit more directional these days, [instead] of just hitting the big one all the time.
“While I still have to do [the powerful kicks], I try to make sure I put it in the right spot every time so our team can go down there, and either get fair catches or be in the right spot to make that tackle.”
Michael Clay, the Eagles’ STC, is impressed so far.
“We can always get better,” Clay said. “But so far, [the specialists] have been really good working together.”
The other specialists are placekicker Jake Elliott and long snapper Rick Lovato which brings to mind the punter’s other role in most NFL cities, the holder for field goals and PATs.
To gain chemistry there the trio has hit various fields around the Delaware Valley to hone their skills during the downtime in the offseason. Sometimes it was Penn or Temple or it could have been a local high school in South Jersey where some aspiring players got the thrill of a lifetime by shagging balls for NFL players.
“It’s been a pretty seamless transition [from Johnston to Siposs as the holder],” Elliott said. “Arryn has done a really good job.”
Despite the lack of overt competition, a foundational principle in the Nick Sirianni regime, Siposs understands another punter is always just a phone call if he falters.
“I feel like it’s always a good thing when you don’t have competition,” Siposs admitted. “But at the same time, you’ve got to challenge yourself every day to make sure no else comes in to be able to do that role. While it’s obviously a great feeling [as the lone punter in camp], there’s still plenty of work to be done and I’ve just got to make sure I go out there and work hard every day.”
Clay seems unconcerned.
“For Arryn, it’s about stacking really good days,” said Clay. “He’s had three really good days so far and we're going to keep that going. If something comes up, something comes up."
The next day awaits.
“The reality is that I haven’t played a game yet in the NFL so there’s always going to be a learning curve in making sure I go out there and execute,” said Siposs. “This is obviously a different beast, going out there and executing, and I feel like I’ve prepared for it really, really well, and now I just get to show what I’m capable of.”
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John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.