There was a lot of adjustment on the part of Buffalo's special teamers in 2010. On a unit where player turnover is typically greater than the other two units on the roster, veteran players tried to help the rookies and other newcomers blend in. Under the guidance of new special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven there was a shift in philosophy to adapt to as well.
Special teams captain George Wilson and veteran Corey McIntyre were among the more instrumental as coaches on the field. The dominant performers on special teams in recent years have been their veteran kickers Rian Lindell and Brian Moorman. But in 2010, the greatest impact was literally provided by McIntyre, Buffalo's special teams MVP.
"I feel it was one of my better seasons. I don't care about whether people see me as a Special Teams MVP. I just try to stay consistent," McIntyre said. "I had an ankle injury that held me back for a bit, but got it healed up and got back out there and felt I had a very productive season on special teams."
The fullback had more than his share of thundering hits on coverage teams through the course of the season dropping returners with regularity.
"It's always good to get a good lick," he said. "As long as you get them down that's good, but when those big licks come around, I'm going to take it."
McIntyre and Wilson were neck and neck through much of the 16-game slate for the special teams tackle lead.
"He got me at the end, but I don't care as long as I'm hitting somebody I'm good," said McIntyre, who finished second in tackles with 12 to Wilson's 16. "As long as I'm out there making plays and helping the team win I'm good."
McIntyre provided a valuable veteran presence and physical edge to the coverage units, which were in a transition year.
"It was a different approach and I think we grasped it," said McIntyre of the switch from Bobby April to Bruce DeHaven. "I'd say by the third game everything started to come together and we just started feeding into what he wanted us to do. It was a difference, but no matter what they tell you the players still have to go out there and play special teams. Over the years everyone knows Buffalo Bills special teams and we just tried to keep that going."
Buffalo's coverage teams also had an influx of rookies, and were faced with the task of replacing their top two gunners that did not return from the previous season's 11th-ranked punt coverage unit.
"Some guys took longer than others to adjust. We just had to get guys like (Arthur) Moats and Antonio (Coleman) used to it and it took some extra coaching by some of the vets. Once they got a hold of it they started to perform, guys like Donald Jones."
Of the four main special teams units, Buffalo's kick coverage unit fared the best by way of NFL rank as they stood 11th in the league at season's end. The punt return unit wasn't far behind ranking 13th. Buffalo's specialists understand there is plenty of work ahead, but knowing McIntyre will be in the fold for 2011 ensures a hard-hitting element for the Bills coverage units.
"We've already got the guys who can produce and I think we will hit the ground running once we get back into football," said McIntyre. "I think we have the concepts down and I think we'll be ready to go next season and be better."