Youngster has eyes on Arizona Cardinals punting position
By Jim Koch
Ryan Winslow has been handed an opportunity to overtake three-time Pro Bowler Andy Lee for the Arizona Cardinals punting job
Back in late July, the Arizona Cardinals were forced to make some roster cuts. In order to enforce social distancing measures, the NFL has mandated that clubs can no longer take 90 individuals to their respective training camps. The maximum number is now 80, so the Cards had to say goodbye to 10 players who probably weren’t going to make the team anyway.
One name who was not included among the squad’s coronavirus-related cuts was second-year Cardinal Ryan Winslow. Despite the reduction in training camp invitees, the franchise still believes that it is necessary to hold onto two punters. Andy Lee has been magnificent since he came to Arizona three seasons ago, but does Winslow’s presence mean that the organization is losing faith in it’s 38-year old veteran?
Lee’s advanced age could certainly be a factor in the Cards decision to keep Winslow around. The three-time Pro Bowler has shown no signs of slowing down, but Father Time has a way of catching up to us. The 26-year old Winslow is a full 12 years younger than Lee, a former San Francisco 49ers draft pick.
One thing working in Lee’s favor in his competition with Winslow is his distinct advantage in experience. The 6’1, 185 pounder has been a professional since 2004, and has appeared in 248 contests. Winslow, on the other hand, has just six punts on his NFL resume.
Winslow was promoted from the Cardinals practice squad last September after Lee was sidelined during a week three loss to the Carolina Panthers. The 6’5, 217 pounder took over the team’s punting duties in weeks four and five, and averaged an impressive 48.5 yards per boot. Winslow posted a net average of 44.2 yards, and placed two of his six punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Lee, who had suffered a hip flexor injury while making a tackle against Carolina, returned in week six. In 15 games last year, the former University of Pittsburgh product averaged 47.8 yards on 61 punts for Arizona. Lee registered a net average of 41.9 yards, and dropped 21 of his kicks inside the 20.
The odds-on favorite to be the Cards punter this coming fall would still have to be Lee. Nevertheless, the fact that the club has retained Winslow is a sign that the position could very well be up for grabs. Whether Lee can hold off the youngster’s challenge or not will be one of the more interesting storylines of the 2020 training camp