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Upon Further Review - New Orleans Saints Special Teams

Looking at the Saints Special Teamers

Is this the week Omar Bolden bolts for a Touchdown?
Is this the week Omar Bolden bolts for a Touchdown?
Norm Hall

The NFL Sunday night Game of the Week will pit two future Hall of Fame Quarterbacks in Drew Brees and Peyton Manning when the New Orleans Saints visit the Denver Broncos. Last year’s NFC South champion against a revitalized team that made it to the AFC Divisional Championship game in 2011. The Saints needed a come-from-behind, 35-28 victory at Tampa Bay on Sunday to reach 2-4 with consecutive victories but are sitting four games behind division leader Atlanta (6-0), while the Broncos had an extra week to savor their win over division rival San Diego Chargers and rest up for this contest.

  • Football Outsiders puts the Broncos Special Teams at 19th overall, which is probably due to fumbles by both Omar Bolden and Trindon Holliday. The Saints are ranked 14th.
  • Pro Football Focus ranks the Broncos at #7 and New Orleans at #20.

  • The Broncos are tied for 1st with allowing the lowest average yards on kick returns (18.4). They are tied for 10th in punt coverage, allowing a 7.3 yard average.
  • The Saints are 18th on kickoff coverage, allowing 25.3 yards per kick return and tied for 15th at 7.4 yards per Punt return.
Garrett Hartley is the Kicking specialist for the Saints and when I say specialist, that is all he does is placekick. Hartley is 7/9 (77.8%) this season on Field Goal Attempts with a Long of 53 yards, which is a career mark. He is 21/21 on Extra Point attempts and has Kicked off once with an 11 yard return.

The Holder for Hartley is back up Quarterback Chase Daniel.

The New Orleans Punter is Thomas Morstead, who leads the league in Gross and Net Punting Yards. Morestead has punted 25 times with a 51.2 yard average and a 44.9 yard Net. He has 2 Touchbacks, placed 7 Inside the 20 yard line and forced 2 Fair Catches. His longest went for 70 yards and 12 have been returned an average of 9.92 yards.

Thomas also handles the Kickoffs for the Saints. He has kicked off 36 times with 16 touchbacks. The average landing area is right around the 1 yard line, so with that many touchbacks, his Hang time is pretty good. Morestead had one kickoff out of bounds and the other 19 were returned for a 23.5 yard average.

The Punt Return man for the Saints is one Bronco fans are familiar with. Darren Sproles used to give the Broncos fits as a member of the San Diego Chargers when they would have to face him twice a year. Darren has only had a handful of chances this year, possibly because opposing punters are kicking the ball away from him. Sproles has 9 returns for a 7.4 yard average, a long of 16 yards and no Touchdowns this season. He has also called for a Fair Catch on 5 occasions. As the Kick Returner, Darren has 14 returns for a 28.7 yard average with a long of 48 yards.

The Saints Long Snapper is Justin Drescher, a 6'1", 235 lb., 3rd year player out of Colorado. Justin was signed as a Free Agent by the Saints in late November of 2010 and served as the team’s long snapper for the final six regular season games of the 2010 season and the entire 2011 season, including all postseason contests. He spent the early part of 2010 with the Atlanta Falcons and has 1 career Special Teams Tackle. Drescher is a Colorado native and was born in Colorado Springs.

Wide Receiver Courtney Roby is the best Coverage guy on the Saints. He grades out the highest on both the Kickoff and Punt coverage Units and has 4 Tackles. Travaris Cadet (4 TKL) and Middle Linebacker Ramon Humber (3 TKL) also grade out well on Kickoffs. Linebacker Will Herring (4 TKL, 1 Missed TKL), Defensive Back Johnny Patrick (3 TKL, 1 MT), Defensive End Martez Wilson (3 Penalties, 4 TKL) and former Bronco Defensive Back Rafael Bush (1 PEN, 4 TKL, 2 MT) round out the Special Teams Unit for the New Orleans Saints

This game could go either way on Special Teams. It could be exciting because both teams have a speedster that can take it to the house, but it could be a snoozefest at the same time because both teams have great kickers that don’t allow much room for a returner. However, with two of the best Quarterbacks in the league going against each other, the Passing game will contain enough excitement for all.

Go Broncos!

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