Editor's Note: Football analyst Bryan Broaddus has been previewing each position with one key battle to watch heading into training camp. Today, he focuses on the safety position.
If there's a battle for a spot on this 53-man roster for special teams, it will come down to how well Chris Jones can hold off rookie Cody Mandell for the punting job.
Dan Bailey will be the kicker and L.P. Ladouceur the snapper, and he still has several quality seasons left in him, so punter is the spot to watch.
Mandell comes from the University of Alabama, where he was a four-year letterman and All-SEC punter for the Crimson Tide. No punter during the Nick Saban era at Alabama has had a better net average than Mandell's 42 yards per punt.
Another side note of Mandell during his [embedded_ad] junior season – he had 14 punts that traveled at least 50 yards. Eight of those punts were in games against LSU, Texas A&M and Notre Dame, which were the biggest games of the Tide's run for the National Championship.
During OTAs and minicamps, when Mandell got his opportunities, he did impress with his ability to drive the ball going down wind. But when he was required to punt into it, he wasn't as consistent as he needed to be.
If he in fact is going to beat Jones out for that spot, he can't be that up and down.