the study of the kicking components within sports

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

AFC East Specialists 2011

Who are the NFL specialists in the AFC East division this year?

Buffalo Bills
Once again, all three starting specialists are back for the Bills: long snapper Garrison Sanborn, punter/holder Brian Moorman, and kicker Rian Lindell. But in an unusual turn, each role also has an undrafted rookie in camp: long snapper Danny Aiken from Virginia, punter Reid Forrest from Washington State, and kicker Chris Hazley from Virginia Tech. All three are likely just camp legs or wrists, including Reid who nonetheless was typically ranked in the top five among this year’s punting prospects and who, like Moorman, gets good hang time on his punts.

Miami Dolphins
Entering camp for the second straight year, long snapper John Denney, punter Brandon Fields and kicker Dan Carpenter are the only players at their respective positions on the roster. For 2011, Carpenter’s goal of being needed less may initially seem odd, but in the team context it is probably the goal of every kicker, “We want to score more touchdowns. I think it’s pretty safe to say the more points you score the better chance you have to win. There are so many games in this league that are settled by three points or less. But seven points is always better than three.”

New England Patriots
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski is back after missing the second half of last year with a torn quad. ST coordinator Scott O’Brien noted, “(We’re) starting him off with the field goals because we want to get him back in the timing, the operation of everything. When he goes to kick off, it’s just him and the ball, and he’s got his rhythm. He can do that on his own. The priority was to get him back and evaluate where he is at, but also to (work on his) timing, to get him back with the snapper, get him back with the holder, and start with that.” The long snapper is Matt Katula who came on board last year after Gostkowski’s injury and the holder is once again punter Zoltan Mesko. Undrafted rookie Chris Koepplin from UMass has been handling kickoffs for now.

New York Jets
Tanner Purdum is back for a second year at long snapper. He was recently joined in camp by rookie Wilson Raynor out of East Carolina. The other two specialist roles are up for competition during August. At punter, T.J. Conley is back for his third consecutive camp and hoping the third time is a proverbial charm. His competition is Australian Chris Bryan who punted for Tampa Bay last September. At kicker, Nick Folk was re-signed to a one-year deal, but he’ll have to win the right to keep his job. He’ll be challenged by a resurgent Nick Novak who is coming off a strong showing in the UFL last year.

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