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Saturday, September 6, 2008
Preseason All-AFC East special teams


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

They say special teams are one-third of the game, which is ridiculous because even if both teams go three-and-out on every drive, then special teams are on the field only once out of every four plays. But, whatever.

Here's the special teams unit from my inaugural preseason All-AFC East team. The offense was posted Thursday and the defense on Friday.

Kickoff returner: Leon Washington, Jets.

Both return positions were challenging to pick. The Bills have Pro Bowler Terrence McGee, who owns all the team's records. The Dolphins have electrifying sophomore Ted Ginn. But the Jets actually named their kick returner team MVP last year. Washington brought back three kicks for touchdowns and posted a 27.5-yard average.

Punt returner: Roscoe Parrish, Bills.

By the end of the year, Ginn might prove to be best in the NFL on punts. Not only is he flat-out dangerous on his own, but the Dolphins signed players specifically for what they could bring to special teams. Ginn will get sprung.

But it's hard to go against the NFL's reigning punt-return king. Parrish set a Bills record and led the league with a 16.3-yard average. He has one touchdown in each of the past two seasons.

Kicker: Rian Lindell, Bills.

Once knocked for not having a long leg, Lindell has been among the NFL's most accurate kickers. He made 24 of 27 attempts last year, including a club-record 18 in a row. He has converted 92 percent of his kicks the past two seasons. He's the only AFC East kicker (not counting Dolphins rookie Dan Carpenter) not to have missed an extra point over his career.

Punter: Brian Moorman, Bills.

Dolphins football operations boss Bill Parcells fawned over Brandon Fields' booming leg during the offseason, but Moorman is a craftsman. Moorman works in windswept Ralph Wilson Stadium but has been a first-team All Pro twice. He has dropped at least one punt inside the 20-yard line in 21 straight games, the NFL's longest active streak.

Long snapper: Lonie Paxton, Patriots.

Paxton has been automatic for the Patriots for nine seasons. He has snapped for 10 winning field goals, including Adam Vinatieri's 48-yarder as time expired in Super Bowl XXXVI. Paxton's consistency helped Stephen Gostkowski set an NFL record by connecting on all 74 of his extra points last year.

Holder: Moorman.

Every team in the AFC East has its punter hold for field goals and extra points. Moorman for years has been helping Lindell set records. Lindell holds the Bills record for career field goal percentage and the NFL record for most consecutive extra points without a miss to start a career (248).