Developing a New Return Man

Jeremy Ross ReturnsI think everyone knows McCarthy would like to replace Randall Cobb in the return game so he can focus on being a wide receiver and avoid all the additional risk that goes with Cobb returning kicks.

But that’s not going to happen until he finds a viable option for replacing Randall.

I really think the only player that has a real shot at returning kicks this season is Ross. He had a couple of nice punt returns last season. Check out this clip of a 32 yard return against Minnesota, and this one of his 58 yard return against the Titans.

Jeremy does a lot of good things. I like the fact that he doesn’t go down easily. A lot of return men need to slip through a seam untouched to generate and yardage. If they don’t get a clean seam it’s all over. Jeremy can take some hits and some clawing and still keep things moving downfield.

I also like the way he doesn’t try to outrun his blockers when he gets in the open field. Often returners get in the open field, start smelling the end zone prematurely, and run away from their blocking. Even in college Ross did a good job of sticking with his blockers. He might get bumped off his path a bit but then he accelerates back to a position behind his blockers again and follows his escort downfield.

I expect Mike to give even reps to a variety of potential returners during the preseason but I’m hoping Ross can shine enough to win the starting role and reduce the risk we’ve been taking with Cobb.

Time will tell.


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