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Can Owens, Osgood combo lift Jags?

6/22/2010

Saying a team is loaded with quality special teams players isn’t necessarily a compliment. Special teams players are typically replaceable parts who should graduate to starting jobs on offense or defense and see their spots filled by kids.

And while teams desire effective special teams, I am fine if well-designed clubs subscribe to one maxim and toss another.

True: Special teams may not win you games, but they can lose you some.

False: Special teams are one third of the game. (Count the snaps. There are way more on offense and defense)

In the AFC South, the Colts have long been a successful team with a minimal emphasis on special teams. Generally, their investment in their stars has meant special teams filled with rookies, lacking significant veteran presence. And that’s usually worked OK, except in a moment like the second half kickoff of the Super Bowl. Hank Baskett's inability to corral that surprise onsides kick, allowing it to bounce off his facemask turned the game.

While the division’s top team tends to undervalue special teams, the division’s worst team takes a different approach entirely.

The Jacksonville Jaguars already regarded Montell Owens as one of the league’s premier special teams players. His 30 special teams tackles were 10 more than the next-best total in the division.

The addition of free agent Kassim Osgood gave the Jaguars a second top player.

If the Jaguars can play their division rivals close, perhaps a special teams play here or there can be the difference for them in a handful of games.

I talked to Owens about Osgood as the two prepare to try to make it so, and here’s what he said:

“One of the things that I noticed immediately, from the first day, we just had a chemistry that usually takes a year or two to build with somebody. With him it happened immediately. On the first day of kickoff, from the first day of punt. That’s something I was curious about before he got here. I knew it was going to be good, but when you’re taking a leader from one team and plugging him into another with an existing leader, how would it be? I’ve never experienced that before.”

“Just for us to mesh the way we have meshed is something. I’ve learned so much from this guy in just a couple months, when you get around guys like that, you can’t help but be a better player. I’m so happy he’s here.”

Owens said he expects he and Osgood could both play on the four major special teams, kickoff, punt, kickoff coverage and punt coverage.