Bears’ punter Spencer Lanning looks great
BY SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org August 12, 2011 11:00PM
Rookie punter Spencer Lanning (right) impressed in camp while veteran Adam Podlesh (left) wasn’t allowed to practice. | Nam Y. Huh~AP
Updated: October 19, 2011 2:51AM
Dave Toub, one of the NFL’s top special-teams coaches, isn’t one to gush about an undrafted rookie.
But he can’t help himself with punter Spencer Lanning.
“He’s having a great camp,” Toub told the Sun-Times on Thursday. “He hasn’t had a bad day since he’s been here. I’ve never seen, to be honest with you, a rookie come in and punt as consistent and powerful as he has.”
The Bears held their first training-camp practice July 30, and many were impressed by the towering blasts of the new punter.
And it wasn’t Adam Podlesh, whom the club signed to a five-year, $10 million contract that included $3.5 million in guarantees. Per the new terms of the collective-bargaining agreement, Podlesh wasn’t permitted to practice until Aug. 4, so Lanning had a chance to make an impression.
And he has proved that he’s more than a “camp leg,” a young player brought to training camp to lighten the load of the proven kickers.
“This kid is an NFL punter, and we’re going to keep developing him,” Toub said. “You just never know, so you want to keep him as long as you can.”
The Bears will showcase him during the preseason and hope that another team in need of an upgrade at punter may be willing to trade a late-round draft pick for him. Considering he didn’t cost the Bears a pick, anything they gain by moving him would be a bonus.
How likely is that?
Teams with the worst 2010 records have the first dibs on released players, so the Bears’ best hope is that a decent or good team would want Lanning and not gamble on the waiver system.
With his powerful leg, Lanning also could be intriguing to a team with an older kicker who might be limited on kickoffs or even long field goals. Lanning handled all three duties in high school and at South Carolina, where his longest field goal last season was 51 yards. His punting average, meanwhile, was 44.1.
Bears area scout Mark Sadowski discovered Lanning, and special-teams assistant Kevin O’Dea was impressed with the footage he saw. When he was allowed to speak to O’Dea, Lanning was impressed and wanted to play for the Bears.
Although he signed before Podlesh, Lanning said he wasn’t surprised that the team added the veteran.
“The only thing I can do is go out there and punt as best I can, control what I can control,’’ Lanning said. ‘‘It doesn’t matter what Adam Podlesh does. That’s what my dad has taught me from the very beginning. I want to try and help my team win some games. Whether I’m here or somewhere else, I think it’ll all work out, as long as I handle my business.”
Besides, Lanning said he already has learned plenty from Toub, O’Dea, Podlesh, Robbie Gould and Pat Mannelly.
“I felt this was the best place for me,” he said. “I’m blessed to be here.”