Buffalo Bills Special Teams: 10 Names To Keep In Mind

US PRESSWIRE

With the Buffalo Bills transitioning to a new coaching staff and roster changes forthcoming, these 10 "core" specialists from the 2012 Bills are worth keeping in mind over the next few months.

As the Buffalo Bills transition to an entirely new coaching staff under Doug Marrone, it's safe to expect a bit more roster turnover than what might be termed a "usual amount" if the same coaching staff were in place. As such, many of the team's most-used special teams players for a year ago could be replaced by new reserve players on a new-look Bills roster in 2013.

Still, it doesn't hurt any incumbent player to have solid special teams contributions on his CV when a new coaching staff is in place, either. Beyond the pure specialists (i.e. the kicker, punter and long snapper), there are seven Bills players worth mentioning in our special teams review that have done enough in the third phase to warrant consideration as the team moves in a new direction.

Rian Lindell

  • Age: 35 (36 on January 20)
  • Contract: Signed through the 2015 season. Scheduled to make a $2.1 million base salary in 2013.

Now the elder statesman on Buffalo's roster, Lindell is coming off of a statistically excellent season (he made 21-of-24 field goal attempts) aided by departed head coach Chan Gailey's hesitance to use Lindell on longer tries (he was 1-of-2 from 50 or more yards last season). Lindell was okay on kickoffs after the release of kickoff specialist John Potter, and he's obviously still very consistent on kicks under 50 yards. The question, then, will be whether or not new special teams coordinator Danny Crossman feels comfortable with Lindell from distance, or whether he'd like a younger, stronger-legged option to work with.

Shawn Powell

  • Age: 24 (25 in November 2013)
  • Contract: Signed through the 2014 season, after which he is scheduled for restricted free agency. Scheduled to make a $480,000 base salary in 2013.

Faced with the daunting task of replacing fan favorite Brian Moorman during the regular season, Powell had an up-and-down rookie season. He was wildly inconsistent striking the ball at times - we saw a lot of shanks in 2012 - and as a result, he ranked No. 24 in punting average (44.0 yards) and, more importantly, No. 23 in net punting average (38.1, a half-yard better than Moorman). There is still some upside with Powell, but the coordinator that hand-picked him (Bruce DeHaven) is now gone, so don't be surprised if he has some serious competition in training camp.

Garrison Sanborn

  • Age: 27 (28 in July 2013)
  • Contract: Signed through the 2014 season. Scheduled to make $885,000 in base salary in 2013.

The Bills re-signed Sanborn to a lucrative (for a long snapper) three-year contract last off-season because he's a very consistent snapper with a near-spotless record - and he does well in the coverage game, too. He'll play in this league for a long, long time.

Chris White

  • Age: 24
  • Contract: Signed through the 2014 season. Scheduled to make $555,000 in base salary in 2013.

The reserve linebacker won't be a factor defensively for new coordinator Mike Pettine, but any player that participates in 77 percent of special teams snaps has a chance at sticking on the back end of the roster. White plays on every coverage unit.

Ruvell Martin

  • Age: 30 (31 in August 2013)
  • Contract: Unrestricted Free Agent

Almost a complete non-factor in Gailey's offense, Martin won't be a consideration for the team at receiver with Marrone and Nathaniel Hackett in town. The unrestricted free agent played on 54 percent of special teams snaps last season - and while rock solid in that role, he'll almost certainly be viewed as replaceable.

Corey McIntyre

  • Age: 33 (34 on January 25)
  • Contract: Unrestricted Free Agent

Aside from White, no other Bill was on the field for special teams plays more than McIntyre, whose 296 special teams snaps dwarfed the 100 he got on offense. Most NFL teams like to have at least one fullback - even as they're marginalized in offenses - so it's reasonable to think that McIntyre may be back, particularly since he's been so good covering kicks.

Nigel Bradham

  • Age: 23 (24 in September 2013)
  • Contract: Signed through the 2015 season. Scheduled to make a $480,000 base salary in 2013.

The rookie linebacker emerged as a starter and got better defensively as the season progressed; he was also a core special teams player, appearing for 60.3 percent of those snaps and making a few explosive hits along the way. Bradham is one of the higher-upside players on the team, and he'll be playing special teams in Buffalo - and probably starting on defense, too - for the foreseeable future.

Brad Smith

  • Age: 29 (30 in December 2013)
  • Contract: Under contract through the 2014 season. Owed a $500,000 roster bonus on the first day of the new league year. Scheduled to make a $2.75 million base salary in 2013.

Folks haven't liked Smith's contract almost from the moment it was signed, and his increasingly smaller role in the team's offensive plans justify those feelings. Smith, however, is still a valuable member of the team; he recorded a kick return touchdown and averaged 27.6 yards per return last season, and he also plays on all of the team's coverage units, as well (as evidenced by his 259 special teams snaps). His contract is clearly not ideal, but Smith's an excellent special teams player, and worth keeping around because of it. He seems like an ideal replacement for Martin - with added versatility - in the likely event Martin isn't brought back.

Leodis McKelvin

  • Age: 27 (28 in September 2013)
  • Contract: Unrestricted Free Agent

The maligned cornerback very nearly made second team All-Pro as a punt returner in 2012. In the last year and a half as the Bills' primary punt returner (31 returns), McKelvin has averaged 18.9 yards per return and scored three touchdowns. He is, without doubt, an elite punt returner. He also ranked fifth on the team with 257 total special teams snaps, and even if he's just competitive depth in the defensive backfield, he's a player the team will almost certainly offer a contract to.

Alex Carrington

  • Age: 25 (26 in June 2013)
  • Contract: Signed through the 2013 season. Scheduled to make a $575,000 base salary in the final year of his rookie deal.

Dubbed "Megahand" by teammate Stevie Johnson in the midst of a kick-blocking spree that ultimately ended with six affected kicks, Carrington was also a part of the team's kickoff coverage unit, and played on 50.3 percent of the team's special teams snaps last season. His kick-blocking alone makes him an excellent special teams player, but he's got value even beyond that virtue.

Discussion topic: We have two questions we'd like to see discussed pertaining to the special teams in the comments section below.

  • Out of the three free agents on this list (Martin, McIntyre and McKelvin), which would you like to see brought back - and which do you expect to be re-signed?
  • How comfortable are you penciling in the inconsistent Powell as the team's punter going into next season?
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