Positional breakdown: Special teams

The Chargers feature some of the more productive special teams in the league. In 2006, Nate Kaeding represented the AFC in the Pro Bowl; Mike Scifres led the league in punts placed inside the 20-yard line (35); and David Binn set the franchise's games-played record. The coverage units did their part too, with three players recording at least 18 tackles.

Last season, Nate Kaeding finished second in the AFC in points scored behind teammate LaDainian Tomlinson. However, it was the points Kaeding failed to put on the board that tarnished an otherwise fine season. For the second time in three years, the Chargers were bounced from the playoffs as the result of a missed kick by Kaeding.

Fellow kicker Mike Scifres has become the defense's greatest asset by consistently flipping field position in the Chargers' favor. He makes things easy for the punt coverage team, too, as his stellar hang times result in less than 40 percent of his punts being returned.

Responsible for the success of both kickers is David Binn, the team's longest tenured player and the long-snapper on last season's Pro Bowl team. Not only is Binn a model of consistency at one of the league's most underappreciated positions, but he is a respected leader in the clubhouse.

"Having someone like Dave to go to, talk to and ask questions to, and just to have around, it helps out so much," Scifres said. "It's so much more relaxing knowing that you've got someone that's been to the Super Bowl and been around the block."

Michael Turner has the inside track on the kick return gig; he lacks breakaway speed but is decisive and tough to bring down. First-round pick Craig Davis has sure hands and is elusive after the catch, giving him a great chance to be the starting punt returner. Darren Sproles will likely have to unseat both players to maintain his spot on the roster.

The coverage units were both middle of the pack last season – the kickoff team ranked No. 20 in return average and the punt team ranked No. 7 in net average – but those numbers should improve in 2007. Draft picks Eric Weddle, Anthony Waters, Legedu Naanee and Brandon Siler will help bolster both coverage units.

"So far, I've been working on the punt-rush and kick-coverage units. As a rookie, I know that a lot of my time is going to come on special teams," Naanee said.

The Chargers special teams are always consistent, but sometimes that is not enough. In 2007, the team may need a kick return for a score or a clutch kick by Kaeding to get where it wants to go.


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