The third and most often overlooked part of a Football team is the Special Teams Unit. These guys make the major differences in the battle for field position and are mainly made up from the reserve personnel. The Cincinnati Bengals unit is what we’ll be looking at this afternoon. Pro Football Focus gave Cincy a No. 5 ranking and has Denver at 6th overall. On the other hand, Football Outsiders rank the Bengals Special Teams Unit 6th overall and the Broncos at 20th. That seems like a pretty even match. I am guessing that FO’s low rating for Denver is due to a couple of muffed returns a few weeks ago.
Mike Nugent handles the placekicking and kickoff duties for the Bengals. He is 10 for 11 (90.9%) on Field Goal Attempts through Week 8, with a Long of 47 yards (his career best is 54). Mike is a perfect 17 for 17 on the Point after. Nugent has kicked off 33 times, with 14 Touchbacks (42.4%). His kickoffs land around the 1 yard line on average and 19 have been returned an average of 27.2 yards.
Clark Harris, a 6-5, 255 lb., 4th year player out of Rutgers is the Long Snapping specialist. Since signing on with Cincinnati in October 2009, Harris has played every Bengals game and has had no unplayable snaps. He has a 3-season snap total of 461 (254 punts and 207 placekicks). Clark has 2 Special Teams Tackles this season and 9 for his career.
Kevin Huber is the Punter and Holder for Cincinnati. He has made 33 Punts with a 46.2 Gross average and a 41.0 yard Net. 3 have gone for Touchbacks and 3 have been Fair Caught. Huber has placed 14 Punts Inside the 20 yard line and had 9 Downed by the coverage Unit. He has a long of 65 yards this season and 12 of his Punts have been returned for a 9.2 yard average.
Brandon Tate and Adam Jones have more or less split the Punt Return duties for the Bengals. Tate has 11 returns for an 11.5 yard average and 3 Fair Catch signals. Jones has 8 returns for a 16.0 average and an 81 Touchdown during Week 2’s victory over their Interstate rival Cleveland Browns.
Brandon Tate has been the primary Kick Return man, with 15 run backs for a 25.7 yard average. Adam Jones (3 for a 21.3 avg.), Cedric Peerman (2 for an 18.5 avg.) and Chris Pressley (1 for a 7.0 avg.) are the others.
Vincent Rey has 7 Special Teams stops and one Missed Tackle. Dan Skuta also has 7 Tackles and 2 Misses. Cedric Peerman (4 TKL) and Andrew Hawkins (3 TKL) round out the standouts on Special Teams for Cincinnati.
I think the Special Teams are a wash between Denver and the Bengals. Neither Unit stands out above the other. I suppose we’ll just have to wait for Sunday to find out.
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