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Friday, January 17, 2014
Overview: Specialists

By Pat Yasinskas

TAMPA, Fla. -- Let’s conclude our position-by-position overviews with the specialists.

Looking back: Kicker Connor Barth suffered a torn Achilles tendon in the offseason. His replacement, Lawrence Tynes, was diagnosed with MRSA during training camp. That meant the Bucs had to bring in veteran Rian Lindell, who ended up missing six field-goal attempts. Punter Michael Koenen was solid, and return man Eric Page was adequate. But there was nothing special about Tampa Bay’s special teams.

Looking ahead: The special teams could be in for a lot of changes. New coach Lovie Smith has emphasized the importance of special teams several times. Barth should return at full strength, and that will solidify the kicking situation. Koenen is worth keeping an eye on because he has a salary-cap figure over $3 million and the Bucs might attempt to restructure his contract or try to find a cheaper alternative. Smith had the luxury of having return man Devin Hester in Chicago. Hester could be available, and he’d be a logical fit. But, if that doesn’t happen, the Bucs likely will look for someone to spice up their return game.