Shane Lechler Signs: Houston Texans May Have Best Punt Game in AFC South


Oct 9, 2011; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Raiders punter Shane Lechler (9) punts the ball against the Houston Texans in the first quarter at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Texans finished the week strongly on Friday by adding punter Shane Lechler to their short-list of free agents signed so far this offseason.

Lechler is the fourth guy the Texans have inked in the past week, and even though free safety Ed Reed is the talk of the table, Lechler may help Houston just as much in 2013 – by making the Texans punting game one of the most dangerous in the division.

Statistically, Lechler is at the very bottom of the totem pole now that he has joined the AFC South. The Colts’ Pat McAfee sits atop with an average of 48.2 yards a punt during last season, followed by the Jaguars’ Bryan Anger (47.8) and the Titans’ Brett Kern (47.6). But where Lechler has all three of those guys beat, is experience.

Now replacing Donnie Jones as the Texans probable starter in Week 1, the Texans brought Lechler in due to his fourteen years of knowledge with the Oakland Raiders. Last season Houston ranked seventh overall in terms of average punt yards, while also ranking 13th in average return yards – a small pat on the back for the Texans blockers. On the flip side though, the Texans ranked third in the AFC South, while Lechler on the other hand had the most touchbacks among the four starters with nine.

To some all of this may be useless numbers in an area of the field that seems pointless. But we’ve all seen how serious a great special teams game can make a team when the game is close to over – just ask how the Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in February.

There’s still a lot for Lechler to prove during his time with the Texans. He’s down for a three year, $5.5 million contract, all at the age of 36. In the end though, Lechler is the only guy in the South to say he’s punted for an average of over 50-yards in his career – twice. This could be a big diamond in the rough signing for the Texans, even if noone really notices.

Follow Ryan Cook on Twitter.