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Chiefs punting battle playing out virtually

The Kansas City Chiefs' remote offseason has an additional wrinkle.

For the first time in 15 years, the Chiefs don't know who their punter will be. The team released Dustin Colquitt earlier this offseason as a result of cap need and age, and because they can't get any on-field time together due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there's no clear advantage -- or any at all -- between the two battling to become Colquitt's replacement.

In the meantime, the two competing punters -- Tyler Newsome and Tommy Townsend -- have been working together privately with kicker Harrison Butker and long snapper James Winchester, according to the Associated Press. The four-man group, all healthy and below gathering limits of 10 people, have only had each other to assist in training and pushing each other to get better.

From afar, Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub monitors their sessions via videos recorded and sent to him by the group.

"We're kind of fortunate," Toub said, via the AP, "because those guys can get together and kick and work on the operation. They can do that on our own. We can work on our skill set, whereas to play football you need 22 guys out there. You can't sit down face to face, but they video everything they do and send it to me and we talk."

Those videos might matter more than the average training clip shot in the spring and early summer. With no direct work, this is all the punting hopefuls have to provide their coaches ahead of training camp.

Having said that, Toub told the AP there is no leader. After all, how could one take a lead on another without the coach standing nearby?

"There is nobody out in front right now. I like them both," Toub said. "They've both got really strong legs, really powerful legs. They consistently hit over 5.0 (seconds) hang times, which is impressive. Tommy is a little more clean in his technique as far as consistency, whereas Tyler is a little more erratic. But the results are the same. They both bomb the ball."

They'll continue to bomb kicks in their private setting with the hope they'll get to do it in front of a large public audience. For now, though, that's all it is: hope.

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