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Friday, April 4, 2014
Danny Crossman talks Bills' special teams

By Mike Rodak

Special teams weren't a strong point for the Buffalo Bills last season.

With the exception of kicker Dan Carpenter, who enjoyed a career season, the Bills had issues in the third phase of the game. Long-time Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin, who has compiled league-wide special teams rankings for decades, ranked the Bills 31st, down from eighth the year prior.

Special teams coach Danny Crossman is entering his second season and said Wednesday that part of the problem was finding "core" special teams players on the fly.

"I think what happened was, anytime you're new trying to identify and develop those guys on your own roster, because you really don't know what you have," Crossman told WGR 550. "Well, we tried to identify those guys on the move last year."

Notably, the Bills signed a pair of free agents last month with extensive special teams experience: cornerback Corey Graham and running back Anthony Dixon.

"What we've been able to do now in this offseason is add some guys who have some skins on the wall, if you may, as proven core special teams guys when they've been asked to play that role," Crossman said.

Aside from the need for more (or better) "core" special teams players, the Bills' most glaring problems on special teams last season were on the punt unit. Shawn Powell was released after five games and replaced with Brian Moorman. That brought marginal improvement to the Bills' punt unit, which still ranked near the bottom of the NFL in Expected Points Added, an advanced metric.

Here are some other statistical rankings from the Bills' special teams last season:

Field goal percentage: 91.7 (10th)
Yards per punt: 42.96 (28th)
Net yards per punt: 36.11 (30th)
Yards per kickoff return: 20.39 (29th)
Opponents yards per kickoff return: 23.38 (17th)
Yards per punt return: 6.23 (29th)
Opponent yards per punt return: 10.6 (25th)