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Punter Dickson stealing preseason show for Seahawks

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Thrust into the spotlight following the recent release of mentor and franchise legend Jon Ryan, rookie Michael Dickson stole the show with a stunning display of punting artistry in the Seahawks' dress rehearsal Friday night.

Already leading the preseason in yards per punt, Seattle's fifth-round pick uncorked five kicks for 268 yards and a lofty 53.6-yard average versus Minnesota.

It wasn't just the distance that impressed onlookers. Much like Rams All-Pro Johnny Hekker, Dickson offers an arsenal of tricks, spins, lobs, wedges and drivers that calls to mind a golfer's wide array of clubs to suit every occasion.

The 2017 Ray Guy Award winner started with a 57-yard punt that landed at the 3-yard line and took a hard 90-degree turn out of bounds. After a pair of booming boots that hung for nearly five seconds, Dickson landed a spinning beauty in the coveted coffin corner, touching down just shy of the end zone and spinning out of bounds once again at the 3-yard line.

Dickson gave his defense 86.6 yards with which to work per drive, averaging 4.83 seconds of hang time, according to SB Nation's Field Gulls blog. It was a performance unlike any in the NFL last season:

"Michael Dickson really couldn't have been more effective with the punts in his first time out (as the team’s starter)," coach Pete Carroll raved after the game.

This is nothing new for Dickson, a former Aussie rules player who led all college specialists with 95 punts inside the 20-yard line and 42 inside the 10-yard line during his three years at the University of Texas.

For excited Seahawks fans, Friday night's spectacular performance was reminiscent of the masterpiece painted by Dickson en route to Texas Bowl MVP honors last December. After watching the Longhorns punter land an astonishing 10 kicks inside Mizzou's 15-yard line that night, general manager John Schneider was inspired to trade up for Dickson in the fifth round.

"He was just too unique of a player," Schneider explained after the draft, via ESPN.com. "He can do stuff with the ball that we haven't seen yet. We're really intrigued to see how that translates. I'm not like a punter expert ... but this guy does stuff with the ball that's pretty amazing."

To hear his college coach tell it, Dickson is well worth the price Seattle paid because he's the only punter comparable in value to skill-position stars.

"He's worth trading up in my opinion," Texas coach Tom Herman testified in May, "because you'll soon find out he'll be one of your best defensive players."

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