the study of the kicking components within sports

Thursday, August 11, 2011

AFC West Specialists 2011

The NFL lockout is over, the free agent signing frenzy has slowed to a trickle, training camps are underway, and the preseason kicks off tonight. We begin our division-by-division overview of this year's specialists. Reversing the usual direction of travel, we start in the AFC West.

Denver Broncos
Heading into 2011, the Broncos still have Lonie Paxton as their long snapper and Britton Colquitt as their punter/holder. They enter camp with two kickers on the roster – starter Matt Prater, whose 2010 ended on IR with a groin injury, and Steven Hauschka, his injury replacement. Prater, a restricted free agent, couldn’t practice with team right away after resigning due to the post lockout rules, "I'd like to get as many reps as I can before we start playing games. Guess I'll get some work done outside the facility on my own." He has since rejoined the team and does not appear to be hampered by any lingering injury effects.

Kansas City Chiefs
The returning starters will spend camp getting in their reps and honing their synchronization under the tutelage of special teams coordinator (and kicking guru) Steve Hoffman. Long snapper Thomas Gafford is back for his fourth year. The veteran of the trio, punter and holder Dustin Colquitt is entering his seventh year. Kicker Ryan Succop enters his third year. HC Todd Haley is hoping to utilize Succop’s high hang time kickoffs under the new rules, “We’re excited about Ryan’s skills and how they’ll potentially play into that one way or another, whatever philosophy you take as a kickoff team.” Succop’s now joined by recently signed camp leg Todd Carter, who would have been the Panthers kickoff specialist last year were it not for an injury.

Oakland Raiders
All three of the Raiders specialist stalwarts are back for 2011. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski continues to keep a low profile. Punter Shane Lechler continues to be mentioned in the media for his prescient comments made back when Tom Cable was fired. Long snapper Jon Condo will continue snapping after being re-signed following the lockout. The only other specialist on the roster in camp is punter Glenn Pakulak, who’s now probably better known for venturing into the reality television scene via Most Eligible Dallas.

San Diego Chargers
The Chargers had an apparent long snapper injury curse last year. Long time veteran David Binn is expected to resume the role this year. One of last year’s subsequent injury fill-ins, Mike Windt, remains on the roster heading into camp. The team is set as always with the other two specialists: kicker Nate Kaeding and punter Mike Scifres. Camp leg services are being provided by Ricky Schmitt. All are working under new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia, about whom Binn commented, “He’s real intense and detail-oriented. I like him. I think he’s got high energy and he’s demanding, which is a good thing. I expect that our special teams will be very good this year.”

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