Special Teams Turn a New Page

The most glaring weakness of the Denver Broncos 2004 season was undoubtedly the play of their special teams unit

The most glaring weakness of the Denver Broncos 2004 season was undoubtedly the play of their special teams unit, but following some key off-season moves and a top draft selection, things appear to be headed in the right direction.

For starters, the team used their first choice of the 2005 NFL Draft on cornerback Darrent Williams, who has proven himself a triple threat, utilized on both kickoff and punt returns as well as the defensive backfield. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy makes up for his lack of size, 5'8" and 188-lbs., with explosive speed and the uncanny ability to utilize even the smallest of holes to his advantage.

Through he may not crack the starting unit at cornerback, his abilities on special teams may lock him in as one of the leagues top scorers.

Secondly, the trade to pick up former Carolina Panther Todd Sauerbrun was almost too good to be true. Acquiring one of the top punters in the league for Jason Baker and a 7th round draft pick was almost too good for head coach Mike Shanahan to turn down. Despite the fact he carries considerable baggage; the eleven-year veteran has paid immediate dividends, consistently nailing his punts within the ten-yard line. As long as he can stay on the straight and narrow, the added field advantage could loom large for a team that ranked twenty-seventh in the league on punt within the 20-yard line.

Advantage number three is thirteen-year veteran Jason Elam, arguably one of the finest placekickers in NFL history. When it comes to extra points and field goals, Elam is "Mr. Consistency", scoring at least 100 - points each year he's played in the league. When the game is on the line, there's no one better.

Holding the record for the longest field goal in NFL history, the future Hall of Famer is Denver's trump card, anywhere within the 55-yard line. While Mike Vanderjagt and Sebastian Janikowski may be grabbing all the headlines, the man who quietly spends his off time as a certified pilot, works his way into the NFL record books, one kick at a time.

Special teams, yes, in 2005 they may very well in fact live up to that moniker.



Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past nine years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.

Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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