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Bucs import another punter into their competition

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Might the Tampa Bay Bucs be prepared to kick their punter to the curb?

Punter Michael Koenen, coming off the worst year of his career, faces a new challenge in his efforts to hold on as the team punter. Koenen averaged  40.4 yards per punt last year, 10th in the NFL. The Bucs claimed Cleveland punter Spencer Lanning, who averaged 44.3 yards per punt.

Lanning (5-11, 200) has spent the last two seasons with the Cleveland Browns (2013-14), appearing in all 32 games, punting 177 times for 7,798 yards (44.1 avg.), placing 53 punts inside the 20, with a net average of 38.6 yards.

Lanning, who played collegiately at South Carolina, originally entered the league in 2011 as a college free agent with Chicago, spending the offseason and preseason with the Bears. The Rock Hill, S.C., native spent time in the 2012 offseason and preseason with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets, before being re-signed by the Browns during the 2013 offseason.

Lanning became expendable after the Browns traded for San Francisco’s Andy Lee, a three-time Pro Bowler, who averaged 46.8 lyards ast year.

Lanning is the youngest of the three punters at 27. Lee and Koenen are both 32.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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