Lindell, Moorman form elite K/P duo (Photo Source)
Prior to the 2008 NFL Draft - in fact, prior to the free agent signing period of this past March - we took a look at the Buffalo Bills' roster position by position, breaking down then-current personnel, finding holes, and building our community needs list.
Now that free agency and the Draft have been completed, and the Bills have infused their roster with new talent, it's time to repeat our process. Where has Buffalo gotten better? Where have they gotten worse? How will additions impact which Bills veterans remain on the roster? These are questions that we've been attempting to answer for the past week or so, and will continue to do so.
We continue those discussions today with an examination of Buffalo's special teams. To view our previous discussions on Buffalo's ST situation (pre-off-season), bang it here.
Rian Lindell: In the early portion of the '07 season, Lindell was up to his old tricks, missing key kicks in a loss to Denver and the gut-wrenching loss to Dallas on Monday Night Football - both one-point losses, no less. But Lindell made up for his early season misgivings with game-winning kicks to beat the Dolphins and Redskins, and though his successful kick percentage dipped a bit, he enjoyed one of his best seasons as an NFL kicker. He needs to develop icier veins in crunch time - the Bills will be playing a lot of close games, in all likelihood - but Lindell is a very good kicker.
Brian Moorman: Still heralded as one of the game's best punters, Moorman was not as excellent in '07 as he has been in previous seasons. Yes, he was still an asset to this team, and he's one of the team's most looked up to leaders, but there were stretches last season where Moorman would strike the ball inconsistently - sometimes for an entire game. As he ages, he'll likely have a more difficult time dealing with Buffalo's inclement wind conditions (and those can be year-round). For now, he remains established as one of the game's best, but it'd be nice to see him rebound a bit this coming season.
D.J. Fitzpatrick: This poor guy. He's a young second-year guy who's probably a better punter than kicker, and has a good leg. But the guy just doesn't get reps, and has no prayer of making this team's roster. At least he gets to learn from one of the game's best in Moorman.
The Rest: Here's a list of players that we've identified as either guys who will be counted on to perform on special teams, or guys who need to do that in order to make the roster. Don't try speaking this list out loud in one run; you'll run out of O2:
RB Dwayne Wright, RB Xavier Omon, RB Bruce Hall, FB Darian Barnes, FB Jonathan Evans, FB Mike Viti, WR Roscoe Parrish, WR Justin Jenkins, WR Scott Mayle, WR Felton Huggins, WR James Jones, TE Derek Fine, TE Derek Schouman, TE Tim Massaquoi, TE Teyo Johnson, OG Jason Whittle, OG Duke Preston, OG Christian Gaddis, OG Robert Felton, DE Copeland Bryan, DE Ryan Neill, DE Shaun Nua, DT Jason Jefferson, DT Corey Mace, DT Teraz McCray, LB John DiGiorgio, LB Keith Ellison, LB Alvin Bowen, LB Blake Costanzo, LB Marcus Buggs, LB Jon Banks, CB Terrence McGee, CB Jabari Greer, CB Leodis McKelvin, CB Will James, CB Reggie Corner, CB Ashton Youboty, CB Kennard Cox, CB Dustin Fox, S George Wilson, S John Wendling, S Bryan Scott, S Jon Corto.
Characteristic of this time of the year, the Bills have 43 players on their current roster that comprise one of the league's best special teams units. That's more than half of the roster. A large portion of those players are guys who have been added to the roster during this off-season. This is a very young unit, and very much revamped, but there are guys who have the chance to either revive (read: Keith Ellison), start (Alvin Bowen) or make (Justin Jenkins) their careers on this unit. I, for one, will be keeping an eye on how the team rotates through specialists during the pre-season, because it's those battles that will decide the final few roster spots.
That does it for our State of the Roster II series, which broke down every player at every position currently on Buffalo's roster. We'll have a recap post up from the entire series later on this evening. Go Bills!