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Eagles Punter’s Contributions Help Coach Earn Extension

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PHILADELPHIA – Braden Mann had never been a free agent. He wasn’t used to sitting at home and watching the game he played for a living on television.

Then the Philadelphia Eagles called and, suddenly, Mann was in Philly replacing Arryn Siposs in Week 3.

“It was weird at first,” he said. “I hadn’t really been a free agent before, so it was the first time I was watching football two weekends in a row without playing. I was super grateful to get the call here and was so ready to be here.”

The Eagles were just as thrilled. Mann gave them a big boost with his big leg. He also helped Michael Clay earn a contract extension, a move announced on Friday.

Clay, who will enter his fourth season in Philly, was on the hot seat once, but Nick Sirianni stood by his special teams coordinator, even after some gaffes in Super Bowl LVII last year.

Braden Mann

Ed Kracz/SI Eagles Today

The biggest special teams blunder may have been not Clay’s fault, but Siposs, who mishit the ball, and the Eagles’ coverage teams weren’t able to make up for the error, allowing Kadairus Tony to twist and turn his way 65 yards to the Eagles’ 5-yard lie to set up a touchdown that Philly was never able to overcome.

Siposs talked earlier in the week about how he sought counseling after the unfortunate kick.

Like everything in the NFL, though, one man’s misfortune is another man’s fortune. In this case, it was not only Mann’s but also Clay’s.

Philadelphia’s specialty units were ranked 31st in 2022 due to poor tackling and punting. In 2023, the group had improved to be 10th best across the NFL.

With Mann on board, the Eagles special teams took off. He finished seventh among all punters in the league with an average of 49.8 on 44 punts with 15 landing inside the opponent’s 20. His net was fifth-best in the NFL at 43.9 yards per punt.

“There’s definitely always some things to improve, but a lot of the credit goes to the gunners and the interior (blockers),” he said. “The interior let up, like, no pressure for me so that’s helped me back there to relax and the gunners are covering like their hair is on fire, so it’s been really cool to be a part of it.”

Related: Eagles Signing Special Teams Coordinator to Extension: Details

Mann mentioned gunners, a job handled seamlessly by rookie Kelee Ringo and second-year player Josh Jobe, but there was also returner Britain Covey, who was one of the best in the league at his job. Covey finished with the second-best return average in the league at 14.4 yards.

It’s amazing what good personnel can do for a coach, and Clay is no different.

He lost some of his top special teams players from a year ago, Shaun Bradley and Zech McPhearson, to season-ending injuries during training camp then Christian Elliss to a late-season waiver claim, but Clay helped keep it all together.

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