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Saturday, October 19, 2013
Saints roster spotlight: Special teams

By Mike Triplett

A look at the New Orleans Saints' special teams through the first six weeks of the 2013 season:

Looking back: The Saints’ special teams have been solid across the board. Their best asset, punter Thomas Morstead, has continued to perform at a Pro Bowl level. He ranks third in the NFL with a net punting average of 43.3 yards this year -- both because of his big leg and because the punt coverage has been great. Linebacker Will Herring and cornerback Corey White have made some big tackles in recent weeks, among others. … The kickoff coverage has also been decent, with Morstead usually producing touchbacks.

Kicker Garrett Hartley has been on a hot streak lately, making seven straight field goals. He’s now 14-of-16 on the year. The only special teams area that has been a partial disappointment is the return game, where the Saints haven’t generated much on kickoffs or punts. Darren Sproles’ kickoff return average of 20.1 yards ranks 32nd out of 33 players with more than three returns this year. Sproles’ punt return average of 8.3 yards ranks a more respectable 16th out of 36.

Looking ahead: I’d expect more of the same in just about every department. Morstead might be the best punter in the league today. Everything else about the Saints’ special teams is pretty middle of the road compared to the rest of the NFL.