Inside The Bills

Potter’s big leg

Posted by Chris Brown on April 29, 2012 – 10:57 am

Bills seventh-round pick K John Potter is seen by Buffalo as a kickoff specialist. After having so many of their own opponents blast it through the end zone to neutralize kick returner Brad Smith last season, Buffalo would like to return the favor.

“That’s mostly what people did to us,” said Bills GM Buddy Nix.

So Buffalo used their last pick on Potter, who was shocked but has a big leg. In college he fared well in racking up touchbacks.

“This past season I had 36 touchbacks, which was about 43 or 44 percent,” he said.

Touchbacks are not only valuable from the standpoint of forcing the opponent to start at their own 20, but it also takes hits off your coverage unit and over the course of a 16-game season that can prove valuable.

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Bills won’t always take touchback

Posted by Chris Brown on October 25, 2011 – 8:27 am

As we featured on the home page of the new kickoff rule has robbed Brad Smith on return opportunities because opponents are just booting the ball through the back of the end zone or nine yards deep forcing Smith to take a knee. But Bills special teams coordinator Bruce DeHaven says they won’t necessarily take the touchback every time.

“Situations will change from game to game and kick to kick,” he said. “If we’re two touchdowns down then we might want to get something going on a return and bring it out. If you’re in a tie game and we don’t want to take a chance of starting from the 10-yard line.”

Smith is hopeful that the colder weather brings more opportunities as the wind and cold affects the flight and distance the ball travels, but isn’t banking on it.

“I’m just trying to prepare to return it at any point,” Smith told “A kicker might have a bad kick or they might have a guy that can’t get it back there. We’re just ready. We’re ready and we’re just going to make the best decisions for the football team.”

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Impact of new kickoff line

Posted by Chris Brown on March 22, 2011 – 1:26 pm

The impact of moving the kickoff line back to the 35, which is where it was 17 years ago, will go far beyond improving player safety.

With it becoming easier for kickers to achieve touchbacks, the need for a kickoff specialist will be lessened. It will also hurt the teams that are blessed with a strong legged kicker like the Ravens. More than 50 percent of Billy Cundiff’s kickoffs went for touchbacks as Baltimore was far and away the league leader in touchbacks with 40. The next closest team was Oakland with 29 thanks to Sebastian Janikowski. Now with the kickoff line moved up more NFL clubs will be able to neutralize the league’s better returners more effectively.

In terms of a touchbacks for versus touchbacks against, the Ravens are not surprisingly tops in the league at a plus 29. Oakland is second at plus 17. Philadelphia (+12), New England (+12), Chicago (+11) and Jacksonville (+10) are the only other teams with a double digit positive differential.

In fact only three other NFL clubs Dallas (+8), Arizona (+4) and Green Bay (+3) had positive differentials in the league. So the other 23 clubs were either even or negative in touchback differential. Denver was worst in the league with a minus-14 differential (22 for, 36 against), followed by Detroit (-12), Tampa (-10), San Francisco (-9) and San Diego (-9).

Buffalo was a minus-8 last season with 8 touchbacks four versus 16 touchbacks against tied with the New York Giants.

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