NFL Rumors: New York Jets Creating a Punting Competition?

By Christopher Gamble

Punters are rarely the subject of NFL rumors but the New York Jets just created a punting competition with one week to go in the preseason.

The Jets claimed Spencer Lanning off of waivers from the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday.  The Chicago Bears, the team that originally signed Lanning as an undrafted free agent out of the University of South Carolina last season, also put in a claim but the Jets were awarded Lanning because they had the higher waiver priority.

Lanning, 24, has never played an NFL game and the Jets will mark the fourth team he will have been a member of.  Lanning is being brought in to challenge incumbent Jets starter T.J. Conley who struggled mightily against the New York Giants in week 2 of the preseason.  Conley had 9 punts in that game with two consecutive punts looking more like a Tim Tebow floating duck than a punt.

While Lanning probably won’t unseat Conley, it is interesting to see the Jets bring in a punter so late in the preseason.  Conley had a decent enough game in week 3 of the preseason against the Carolina Panthers so bringing in Lanning raises some eyebrows.

Conley is a second year player out of the University of Idaho.  Last year, his first in the NFL, Conley averaged a healthy 42.7 yards per punt on 92 punts.  Thirty-two of his punts were inside the twenty-yard line, almost a 35 percent ratio with only 6 going for touchbacks.

Lanning, on the other hand, has only attempted 4 punts this preseason and has averaged 50.5 yards on those punts.  Lanning has a booming leg but needs a lot of work in situational and directional punting.  He also served as the Gamecocks’ kicker, hitting on 34 of 44 field goals and 80 of 84 extra points.

When all is said and done the Jets will probably stick with Conley.  Bringing Lanning in is probably nothing more than an attempt to light a fire under Conley.  By the first week of the regular season Lanning will probably be working for his fifth NFL team in two years.

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