Lions sign punter from tryout

Could a pharmaceutical salesman be the Detroit Lions' next punter?

Could a pharmaceutical salesman be the Detroit Lions' next punter?

Hey, it couldn't be any worse than the production they got out of their punters last season.

Blake Clingan, who last played football in 2010 at the University of Central Florida, was impressive enough during a tryout Tuesday that he was signed to a one-year contract by the Lions, according to the club's website.

Detroit had one of the worst punting games in the NFL in 2012. Nick Harris, who is an unrestricted free agent and not expected to return, ranked 32nd in the league with a 41.5-yard average.

Harris' net average of 37.6 yards ranked 27th. Four punters last year averaged more in net punts (return yardage/touchbacks/penalty yards subtracted) than Harris did in gross yardage.

Harris had replaced Ben Graham, who sustained a calf injury in the team's third game and missed the rest of the season. Graham averaged 41.3 yards per punt with a net of 28.5 yards.

Clingan, who grew up in Coral Springs, Fla., might not be the answer for the Lions, but he's going to get a chance to prove himself during the offseason workouts. He's been selling pharmaceutical supplies while training and hoping for the last two years to get this type of opportunity with a NFL team.

Clingan, listed in college at 6-foot-3, 229 pounds, averaged 41.8 yards per punt as a senior at UCF with 15 fair catches, 16 placed inside the 20-yard line, seven touchbacks and a long of 61 yards. He wasn't drafted or signed as a free agent coming out of college.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz recently told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine that he wasn't ruling out the possibility of the Lions selecting a punter, if the right one was available, in the NFL Draft next month.

In the last two years, the Lions have tried five different punters — Harris, Graham, Ryan Donahue, Robert Malone and even kicker Jason Hanson, an emergency replacement for part of one game.

What's next, the janitor?

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