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Former Syracuse Punter Riley Dixon Faces Competition for Starting Spot With Broncos

Dixon, taken in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos, will compete against a NFL vet for the starter job.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos hosted rookie mini camp this past weekend, and that means that former Syracuse Orange punter Riley Dixon got his first reps as a member of an NFL team. Dixon, who was drafted by the Broncos in the seventh round, is expected to compete for the starting spot against fellow Bronco Britton Colquitt.

Colquitt has been in Denver since 2009, but has seen his numbers go down in recent years. During the regular season, Colquitt averaged 39.7 net yards per punt and pinned nine of 32 punts inside the opposing 20-yard-line, but his postseason play brought his net average up to 43.3 yards per punt. By comparison, Dixon averaged 43.7 net yards per punt and had 28 of his 65 punts downed inside the opposing 20-yard-line. 

Broncos special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis heard about Dixon's potential from special teams assistant Chris Gould, who was once an assistant at Syracuse.

"We had some real good information on the kid," said DeCamillis. "We think he's got a chance to be a real good punter in the National Football League, and that's why we took him. But it's going to be a real competitive situation."

Dixon told Denver media that he's always admired Colquitt. He said he's still settling in and adjusting to punting in windy conditions, something he didn't have to deal with in the Carrier Dome at Syracuse.

One factor that could swing the competition Dixon's way is that Colquitt is scheduled to earn $3.25 million next season. Dixon would cost significantly less for the Broncos, should he win the starting spot -- a big deal if the team thinks it can receive similar results from the two players.