The punter may be the most overlooked player on any team in the NFL. If the offense is good, he's never on the field and, when he is on the field, it's because something bad has happened. For those reasons, they may be the most under-appreciated players in the league.
However, a team needs a punter like we need oxygen to breathe. Without a good punter, any team with a struggling offense can lose the field position game and end up fighting an uphill battle. A good punter can bail out an offense by pinning the opposing team deep in their own end of the field and allow a defense to win the game for them.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, Bengals punter Kyle Huber, who is in his third year with the team after being drafted out of University of Cincinnati in the fifth round in 2009, isn't one of the league's better punters. They have him listed as the league's 27th ranked punter.
Huber's score on PFF is 1.7 (compared to Broncos punter Britton Colquitt's score of 23.9). He's punted 62 times for a total of 2,675 yards for an average of 43.1 yards per punt and his longest punt of the season is 71 yards. He's kicked the ball into the end zone for a touchback seven times and pinned the opposing team within their own 20-yard line 23 times. All in all, after you factor in the average yardage from returns, Huber's average net punt yards is 38.4 yards. His 38.4 net yards per punt is ranked 21st in the NFL.
Hang time is another aspect of a punter's stats. The better the hang time, the more time players have to get down the field and either force the punt returner to make a fair catch or hit him right after he catches the ball. Huber's best hang time so far this season has been 4.8 seconds, which ranks No. 26 among the league's punters. There are 23 punters that have played in at least 10 games with a maximum hang time that is over five seconds so far this season.
This is not to say that Huber is getting worse than he was last year or the year before. He averaged 42.97 yards per punt in 2009 and 41.8 yards per punt in 2010 so the 43.1 yards per punt that he's averaging so far in 2011 is his best average so far of his career.
All in all, Huber's stats are much more impressive than Bengals former punter Kyle Larson's 2008 stats. He was ranked as the league's worst punter that played in all 16 games with an overall score of -8.0 with an average punt length of 39.4 yards and his net yards per punt only averaged out to 34.6.
Considering how important the last six games on the Bengals schedule are to their hopes of getting into the playoffs, Huber will have to continue to improve and hopefully he can eliminate all the 15-yard punts like the one he kicked against Baltimore in the second quarter that set up their first touchdown of the game.