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Ravens Offseaon Needs in 2011: Special Teams Edition

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TOP POSITIONAL NEEDS ON SPECIAL TEAMS

As a whole, the Baltimore Ravens did well in special teams under coordinator Jerry Rosburg, and they were a much-improved unit from 2009. The unit ranked 8th in the league in 2010, as opposed to 18th a year ago.

Punter Sam Koch and Kicker Billy Cundiff are two of the best at their position. Cundiff’s outstanding year included 40 touchbacks in a season (tying the record set by Mitch Berger). Rookie Long Snapper Morgan Cox also had an outstanding year, but was injured by a torn ACL late in the season. However, Cox should be ready for the 2011 campaign.

The punt return coverage unit ranked 11th in the NFL, and for the most part both coverage units contained the opposing returners well.

1. Kick Returns

Rookie Wide Receiver David Reed performed well in his role as the kick returner. He ranked 6th in the AFC and 12th in the NFL, with a 29.3 yard return average throughout 13 games. Against the Carolina Panthers, Reed ran back a crucial 103-yard TD return. Unfortunately, Reed suffered a wrist injury and was unable to finish out the season.

Key:

Next year, David Reed could see more time as one of Quarterback Joe Flacco’s receivers in the offense. Therefore, as the draft approaches, the Ravens might be interested in looking for a versatile receiver/returner in the first to mid rounds.

2. Punt Returns

Cornerback Lardarius Webb was the one that handled most of the punt return duties in 2010. Webb had 21 returns and 12 fair catches, averaging 9.5 yards per return and recording his longest return of 35 yards against the Steelers. Webb was consistent, but he didn’t have any major return yardages. However, Webb did a great job with ball security and brought stability to the position after he replaced Strong Safety Tom Zbikowski.

Key:

Webb returned in 2010 from a knee injury (suffered at the end of the 2009 season), but was durable for the entire season. He has the potential to be a big playmaker in the return game, but he may be better suited to stay focused on his development as a cornerback. The need to improve average return yardage is certainty an important part of upgrading the team on all phases. Again, the draft or free agency might be the way to acquire a player with breakaway speed for the return game.