Cardinals Positional Analysis: Special Teams

In our final analysis, we examine special teams. Neil Rackers hopes to repeat his 2008 success. Punter Ben Graham finished off 2008 nicely, showing he can have an impact on special teams. In the return game, Arizona will look to Steve Breaston and rookie LaRod Stephens-Howling to turn in some big plays. Andy Bishop takes a look at all areas of special teams.

Kicker Neil Rackers is coming off a great 2008 season in which he converted 25 of 28 field goals during the regular season. That was after two sub-par seasons in which he made less than 76 percent of his attempts in each respective season. Arizona is hoping for the 2008 version of Rackers this season, who did go 4-for-4 in the preseason.

Punter Ben Graham joined the Cardinals late for their last four games of the regular season and the playoffs. Graham was a welcome addition to Arizona. He showed his ability to stop the ball inside the 20, especially during the playoffs where he punted 12 balls inside the 20 during the four games.

A punter can make a defense's job much easier. Although punters like Graham often go unrecognized, they make a huge difference in the battle of field position.

Long snapper Mike Leach joins the Cardinals after spending seven years in Denver. Leach is a reliable veteran who has solid coverage skills.

The Cardinals have several weapons at their disposal for the return game. It looks like LaRod Stephens-Howling will get the nod to return kicks. He is small, quick, and hard to tackle. The seventh-round pick surely was not a lock to make the roster, but showed his big play potential in week two of the preseason with two long returns against San Diego.

Steve Breaston is slated as the punt returner. We all know his ability in the passing game, but he is a dynamic returner as well. Breaston could work as the team's kick returner should Stephens-Howling prove to be ineffective.


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