Matchup: Falcons' special teams vs. Packers' special teams
About the Packers' special teams: The units have been in a state of flux for most of the season because of the team's vast injury problems. Punter Tim Masthay, a rookie from Kentucky, averages 43.9 yards per punt. The Falcons expect the speedy Sam Shields to return kickoffs and Tramon Williams to return punts. Jordy Nelson also returned kicks during the season. Williams had a 52-yard punt return against Washington in Week 5. Kicker Mason Crosby made 22 of 28 (78.6 percent) field goals this season. He set a franchise record with a 56-yard field goal against Philadelphia in Week 1.
About the Falcons' special teams: Wide receiver Eric Weems will be the most dynamic special-teams player on the field. The Pro Bowler is the Falcons' punt returner and kickoff returner and their top specials-teams tackler. He ranked third in the NFL on kickoff returns (27.5) and fourth on punts (12.8). Kicker Matt Bryant has made 28 of 31 (90.3 percent) field goals, including three game-winners. Punter Michael Koenen averages 40.7 yards per punt. He placed 29 punts inside the 20 and had only five touchbacks.
Analysis by Falcons special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong: "The older players did a good job of getting the younger players involved in extra film study and spending extra time understanding their roles and functions. It ended up paying off as they year went on. Now the younger players are no longer a liability. ... We had to go through some growing pains, but now those guys have matured, and you can see the benefit."
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