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A kickoff specialist is a seldom-used position in gridiron football. Kickoff specialists are members of the special teams. They are responsible for kicking the ball in the kickoff. These players tend to have a strong leg, often capable of making touchbacks, and capable of keeping a ball in the bounds of the field of play but do not have the accuracy or technique required to be a full-time placekicker or punter. Some kickoff specialists later become full-time placekickers, while some are marginal placekickers who are soon out of football.
Due to modern roster restrictions (and a 2016 rule change discouraging the kicking of touchbacks by awarding the receiving team possession at the 25-yard line instead of the 20), most NFL teams do not elect to have a kickoff specialist, and instead use their placekickers (or, less often, punters) on kickoffs. The most recent NFL kickoff specialist was Jordan Gay, who played the position for the Buffalo Bills under special teams coach Danny Crossman from 2014 to 2016. Prior to Gay's being claimed off waivers, Buffalo's kickoff duties were handled by Billy Cundiff and John Potter, who likewise were kickoff specialists during their time in Buffalo; for 2017, the team brought in former high school kicking phenom Austin Rehkow as a contender for the position but opted not to use a kickoff specialist that year. Other players who have spent at least some time as kickoff specialist for an NFL team since 2006 include Steven Hauschka, Rhys Lloyd, David Buehler, Todd Carter, and Brandon McManus. As of the end of the 2014 NFL season, punters Thomas Morstead, Matt Bosher, Sam Martin, Pat McAfee, and Michael Koenen handle kickoffs. There is at least one example of a backup quarterback serving as a kickoff specialist; in 1965, Bob Timberlake did so for the New York Giants. In high school football and most other professional leagues, such as the Arena Football League and, until recent roster expansions, the Canadian Football League, one kicker handles all three kicking positions. Even college football teams usually do not use kickoff specialists, despite the much larger rosters at that level; however, if an underclassman has a stronger leg than the upperclassman kicker, but is not yet ready to assume placekicker or punter duties, they will handle kickoff a while being the primary backup to the other positions.
|Positions in American football and Canadian football|
|Offense (Skill position)||Defense||Special teams|
|Linemen||Guard, Tackle, Center||Linemen||Tackle, End||Kicking players||Placekicker, Punter, Kickoff specialist|
|Quarterback (Dual-threat, Game manager, System)||Linebacker||Snapping||Long snapper, Holder|
|Backs||Halfback/Tailback (Triple-threat), Fullback, H-back, Wingback||Backs||Cornerback, Safety, Halfback, Nickelback, Dimeback||Returning||Punt returner, Kick returner, Jammer, Upman|
|Receivers||Wide receiver (Eligible), Tight end, Slotback, End||Tackling||Gunner, Upback, Utility|
|Formations (List) — Nomenclature — Strategy|
A drop kick is a type of kick in various codes of football. It involves a player dropping the ball and then kicking it after it bounces off the ground.
In American football, a touchback is a ruling which is made and signaled by an official when the ball becomes dead on or behind a team's own goal line and the opposing team gave the ball the momentum, or impetus, to travel over or across the goal line. Since the 2018 season, touchbacks have also been awarded in college football on kickoffs that end in a fair catch by the receiving team between its own 25-yard line and goal line. Such impetus may be imparted by a kick, pass, fumble, or in certain instances by batting the ball. A touchback is not a play, but a result of events that may occur during a play. A touchback is the opposite of a safety with regard to impetus since a safety is scored when the defending team is responsible for the ball becoming dead on or behind its own goal line.
Placekicker, or simply kicker, is the player in gridiron football who is responsible for the kicking duties of field goals and extra points. In many cases, the placekicker also serves as the team's kickoff specialist or punter as well.
A punter (P) in gridiron football is a special teams player who receives the snapped ball directly from the line of scrimmage and then punts (kicks) the football to the opposing team so as to limit any field position advantage. This generally happens on a fourth down in American football and a third down in Canadian football. Punters may also occasionally take part in fake punts in those same situations, when they throw or run the football instead of punting.
A kickoff is a method of starting a drive in gridiron football. Typically, a kickoff consists of one team – the "kicking team" – kicking the ball to the opposing team – the "receiving team". The receiving team is then entitled to return the ball, i.e., attempt to advance it towards the kicking team's end zone, until the player with the ball is tackled by the kicking team, goes out of bounds, or scores a touchdown. Kickoffs take place at the start of each half of play, the beginning of overtime in some overtime formats, and after scoring plays.
William Ambrose Cundiff is a former American football placekicker. He played college football for Drake University, and was signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2002.
Rhys John Lloyd is a former American football kickoff specialist. He was signed by the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2005. He played college football at Minnesota.
In gridiron football, the holder is the player who receives the snap from the long snapper during field goal or extra point attempts made by the placekicker. The holder is set on one knee seven yards behind the line-of-scrimmage. Before the play begins he places the hand which is closest to the place kicker on the ground in a location designated by the kickers foot, with his forward hand ready to receive the snap. After receiving the snap, the holder will place the football on the turf, or block, ideally with the laces facing the uprights and the ball accurately placed where the back hand was initially, then balancing the ball with one or two fingers until the ball is kicked.
David Michael "Dave" Rayner is a former American football placekicker in the National Football League. He was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the sixth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He played college football at Michigan State. Rayner shares the NFL record for most teams played on with J. T. O'Sullivan, and Billy Cundiff; each has played for 11 teams.
In American football each team has 11 players on the field at one time. The specific role that a player takes on the field is called their position. Under the modern rules of American football, teams are allowed free substitutions; that is, teams may change any number of players after any play. This has resulted in the development of three "platoons" of players: the offense, the defense, and the special teams. Within those platoons, various specific positions exist depending on what each player's main job is.
Michael James Husted is a former American football placekicker who played in the National Football League. He played nine seasons with four teams. His first six seasons were with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also played for the Oakland Raiders, the Washington Redskins, and the Kansas City Chiefs. He retired after the 2002 season.
A return specialist or kick returner is a player on the special teams unit of a gridiron football team who specializes in returning punts and kickoffs. There are few players who are exclusively return specialists; most also play another position such as wide receiver, defensive back, or running back. The special teams counterpart of a return specialist is a kicking specialist.
David Buehler is a former American football kicker in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football for the University of Southern California.
Edward Lynn Johnson is a former professional American and Canadian football punter. He most recently played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League. He was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He played college football at Idaho State.
Swayze Waters is a gridiron football placekicker and punter who is currently a free agent. He was most recently a member of the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL). He was signed by the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL) as an undrafted free agent in 2009. He played college football at UAB. He has also been a member of the Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers, Edmonton Eskimos, Carolina Panthers, and BC Lions.
Field goal range is the part of the field in American football where there is a good chance that a field goal attempt will be successful.
A Kicking specialist or kick specialist and sometimes referred to a "kicker", especially when referring to a placekicker, is a player on gridiron football special teams who performs punts, kickoffs, field goals and/or point after touchdowns. The special teams counterpart of a kicking specialist is a return specialist.
Brett Maher is an American football placekicker for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He was signed by the Jets as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He played college football at the University of Nebraska. He has also been a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Ottawa Redblacks, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and Cleveland Browns.
Jordan Lane Gay is an American football kickoff specialist who is currently a free agent. He has also been a punter and a kicker. Gay signed with the Carolina Panthers after going undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft. He has also been a member of the New York Giants, Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans.
Kenneth Arthur Allen is an American football punter who is currently a free agent. He was the starting placekicker and punter for the 2015 and 2016 Michigan Wolverines football teams.