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Special Teams Rank Second In NFC East

On the first Sunday without football since early September, Dallas Morning News columnist and Pro Football Hall of Fame voter Rick Gosselin released his annual special teams rankings. Since there is no particular formula for ranking the special teams, most NFL teams acknowledge Gosselin's standings as the standard by which teams should be judged by.

Gosselin looks at 22 categories and ranks each team. He totals up the rankings for a cumulative score.

Well, how did the Eagles do? In his first year as special teams coordinator in Philadelphia, Bobby April carved out the second-best special teams in the NFC East ranking 14th overall in the National Football League.

The Eagles ranked seventh in net punting average, ninth in kickoff coverage and 12th in punt return average. Kicker David Akers led the NFL in scoring and punter Sav Rocca re-wrote the Eagles' record books once again with a franchise-best 39.0 net punting average. It's the third straight season in which Rocca has set a new net punting record.

The coverage units improved significantly after the midseason acquisition of Colt Anderson from the Vikings practice squad. Anderson finished tied for third on the team with 12 special teams tackles despite playing just half of the season. Anderson was named one of two special teams captains (Akers the other) for the playoffs, showing how much he earned the respect of his teammates in a short amount of time.

April is looked at as the premier special teams coach in the NFL after leading the Bills to a first-place ranking in Gosselin's standings three times during his six-year tenure with the Buffalo Bills.

The Washington Redskins were tops in the NFC East with a 13th-place overall finish. The Cowboys were 20th in the league and the Giants were 30th. How much did the Bills miss April? Buffalo was ranked 27th this past season.

New England won first place in Gosselin's rankings. The Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers were 29th.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 10:30 a.m., February 14

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