The Bills probably aren't the biggest fans of last year's rule changes on special teams.
If the NFL awarded an “All-Return” team, the Bills could rank among the best in the league. Buffalo has a deep group of returners that includes some of the top performers from college and pro football.
got some guys back there that have been successful in college and the
league, and that's what you like,” special teams coach Bruce DeHaven
said. “Not only do you have good depth there at this position, but
you've got good competition because a lot of these guys like to do it.”
The problem is, you only get so many opportunities on special teams -- and last year for Buffalo, it wasn't enough.
The Bills had only 37 kick returns in all of 2011, tying them with Detroit for 25th in the league. In their first seven games of last season, they managed only six returns total. They were 23rd in kick return average (23.1 yards per attempt).
The Bills are hoping that changes because they have the players to make a difference.
QB/WR Brad Smith
began last year as the lead kick returner; he led the league in kick
return average in 2010 (among players with 25 or more attempts) with the
New York Jets. At Clemson, RB C.J. Spiller established a new NCAA Division I record with seven kick returns for touchdowns (and is currently tied with Tyron Carrier). CB Leodis McKelvin had a combined eight returns for TDs at Troy (seven punt returns, one kick return), tying an NCAA record. Rookie WR T.J. Graham is the ACC's all-time leader in kick return yards (3,153). CB Justin Rogers is the Colonial Athletic Association's all-time leader in kick return yards (2,561).
That group doesn't even include CB Terrence McGee, the most prolific kick returner in Bills history. After dealing with injuries in recent years, McGee is strictly a cornerback at this point in his career.