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Special teams looking regular-season ready

Posted Aug 26, 2012


Teams around the NFL tend to use the third preseason game as a measuring stick to see where their starting offensive and defensive units stand. While the starters did see extensive game action against the Steelers, the Bills special teams unit was the group that stole the spotlight. The unit has played well throughout the preseason and their consistent play continued on Saturday night.

Consistency is an attribute that has described Bills punter Brian Moorman throughout his career and he is not showing any signs of slowing down thus far during the preseason. Eight of his 13 punts have been downed inside of the 20-yard line during the first three preseason games and he is hoping to ride that momentum heading into the regular season.

“Anytime that you can step onto the field and feel confident it is a good thing,” said Moorman. “We just try to go out there and pin them down in there and sometimes we will have to play the field position game in certain games and situations, so now we just will try to build upon this momentum going into the season and try to get better each week.”

Moorman has 12 years worth of NFL experience and he still utilizes the preseason to work on certain aspects of his game.

“The main thing for me is just to be able to get some game action and work on some of the things I have been working on during the offseason,” Moorman said. “I always want to improve my game and it was nice to get another batch of opportunities. I’m just going to keep trying to pin them in there and give our defense good field position.”

The veteran punter’s first effort came at the Pittsburgh 42-yard line and required touch and placement. Moorman hung his kick high allowing the coverage unit to run underneath it and down it at the Steelers’ four-yard line. His second attempt was similar, a 34-yard hanger that was fielded at the Pittsburgh 12, with Brad Smith dropping return man Chris Rainey for a one-yard loss.

His two second quarter punts were downed at the Steelers’ eight and two-yard lines.

Another member of the special teams unit that continues to impress is Leodis McKelvin, who was back to returning punts for Buffalo. He had four punt returns and averaged 10 yards per attempt. McKelvin returned the ball well and was pleased to be back in that role again.

“I haven’t had my hands on the ball in the two previous games,” said McKelvin. “I am just trying to do my job and give the ball back to the offense with good field position.”

McKelvin has also been covering punts and he helped pin the Steelers inside their own five-yard line early on during the first half. He made a nice play, but he gives all of the credit to his teammate.

“Moorman’s always going to put the ball down in the right spot, so all we have to do is hustle down field and down the ball,” McKelvin said. “Once again, I am just doing my job and good things are happening for us out there.”

Rookie kickoff specialist, John Potter, also continues to consistently kick the ball out of the back of the end zone every chance he gets. The seventh-round pick had two more touchbacks Saturday night making him a perfect 8-for-8 in the preseason. No other kicker in the league has the same success rate. He continues to show his value to this football team and he is certainly making a good case to make the 53-man roster.

Overall, the Bills special teams unit has been impressive and head coach Chan Gailey has certainly taken notice.

“(They are) playing well,” said Gailey. “They have done a good job. The punters have done a good job, had another good punt return or two tonight. They have done some good things. They really have.”

Bills punter Brian Moorman believes that the sky is the limit for this group heading into the regular season.

“Each week we improve a little bit and we still have one last game next week,” said Moorman. “It will allow us to tweak a few things and get ready for that first game against the Jets. For the most part, we are getting there; we are getting to where we want to be. That is to be one of the best special teams units in the league, if not the best.”