The Falcons special teams was a major strength throughout most of last season. Kicker Matt Bryant was a pleasant surprise with his clutch shots throughout theyear, hitting three game-winners and going a perfect 13 of 13 at home for the Falcons. Return specialist Eric Weems went to the Pro Bowl, thanks in large part to a pair of touchdowns each on a punt and kickoff, ranking in the Top 5 in both categories in average yards per return (the only player in the league to accomplish that), and his team-leading 16 stops on special teams.
The one player that was not so great was punter Michael Koenen, who had his struggles early in the season. He managed to finish the year strong, but it was probably enough inconsistency to cause the Falcons to pass on re-signing him long-term.
That seems to be the impetus to why the Falcons used a sixth round pick on Matt Bosher in last month’s draft. Bosher both kicked and punted at the University of Miami, but was a better punter there. He also kicked off, something he did with some efficiency during his senior season. That latter ability is likely what attracted the Falcons to him and caused them to draft him over a more highly-rated punter in Florida’s Chas Henry. Henry, although had a big leg, he was much less proven as a kickoff specialist.
Both Koenen and Bryant are going to be free agents, and won’t be affected by the labor issues since both have more than six years of experience. Based off their 2010 play, it makes sense that the team is more willing to keep Bryant despite him turning 36 next week and Koenen still being a very spry 28.
But if Bosher takes over as the team’s punter and kickoff specialist, how good can he be right off the bat?