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NFL – 1986 – Special – The NFLs Best Special Teams – Seattle Seahawks


Special Teams in the NFL consist of eight different positions players designated as “special team players”…..as special teams are units that are on the field during kicking plays….and while many players who appear on offensive or defensive squads also play similar roles on special teams….ie: offensive linemen to block or defensive players to tackle….plus there are some specialist roles which are unique to the kicking game.

Kicker (K) – also called the “placekicker”….who handles kickoffsextra points and field goal attempts….as all three situations require the kicker to kick the ball off of the ground…..either from the hands of a “holder” or off a “tee”….whereas some teams will employ two kickers….with one who kicks extra points and field goals….and the other, known as the “kickoff specialist handles kickoffs….however, most use a single kicker for both jobs.   

Holder (H) – Usually positioned 7–8 yards (6.4–7.3 m) from the line of scrimmage….as he holds the ball for the placekicker to kick….who is often a backup quarterback or a punter because of their “good hands”  feel for the ball….and experience in taking snaps from the long snapper (center) during plays from scrimmage….as a holder is occasionally used on kickoffs if the weather or field conditions repeatedly cause the ball to fall off the tee. 

Long snapper (LS) – A specialized center who snapsthe ball directly to the holder or punter…..as this player is usually distinct from the regular center….as the ball often has to be snapped much farther back on kicking plays. 

Punter (P) – Usually lines up 15 yards (14 m) behind the line of scrimmage….a distance that often has to be shortened to avoid being on or behind the end line…..as the punter, upon receiving the snap, drops the ball and kicks it from the air…..which is usually done only on fourth down….and is done to relinquish possession to the defensive team as far downfield as possible.  

Kickoff specialist (KOS) – kickoff specialists are exclusively used during kickoffs….as teams employ kickoff specialists if they feel neither their kicker nor punter is good enough at kicking off. Due to their specialized nature and the limited number of active roster spots….professional KOS are rare.  

Kick returner (KR) and Punt returner (PR) – returners are responsible for catching kicked balls from either kickoffs or punts…..who then run the ball back…..as these are usually among the fastest players on the team….whereas teams may use the same player for both positions…..or may have a separate returner for punts and for kickoffs.  Returners typically also play wider receiver or corner back….however, due to relatively high likelihood of indury during kick returns…..most teams will not regularly use their very best wide receivers and corner backs as returners. 

Up-back – a blocking back who lines up approximately 1–3 yards (0.91–2.74 m) behind the line of scrimmage in punting situations…..and because the punter plays so far back….the up-back frequently makes the line calls and calls for the snap to be received by the punter. Their primary role is to act as the last line of defense for the punter….plus up-backs may occasionally receive the snap instead of the punter on fake punts…..where after they normally run or throw the ball. 

Gunner – A player on kickoffs and punts who specializes in running down the field very quickly in an attempt to tackle the returner….who usually line up near the sidelines where there will be fewer blockers and thus allow them to get down the field quickly.  

Jammer – is a player who tries to slow down gunners during punts or kickoffs so that returners have more time to return them.

As seen in this video herewith…..the best special teams team in the NFL in 1986 was the Seattle Seahawks. 

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