The Green Bay Packers will go into their week one game with the Philadelphia Eagles with receiver Jordy Nelson and cornerback Tramon Williams as their primary return men after cutting safety Will Blackmon, Saturday.
Nelson will return kicks and Williams will return punts. Running back Brandon Jackson will also be in the mix as a kick returner and perhaps most surprisingly, receiver Greg Jennings was also mentioned by coach Mike McCarthy as a potential punt returner.
“I feel good about the returners that we are working,” McCarthy said. “We’re going to compete on special teams and we’re going to give our football team the opportunity to play with good field position. All of the work that we have done in the offseason in training camp, it’s about putting the returner in a position to be successful. We’ll make sure we have the best guy back there with the football.”
While all four players are capable, using them as returners puts the Packers in a precarious position should any one of them get injured, particularly starters Williams or Jennings. The Packers may have solid depth at receiver, but they do not at cornerback, where Williams followed by rookie Sam Shields and second-year man Brandon Underwood.
Should Williams go down returning a punt, Jarrett Bush and Pat Lee will be seeing more of the field than probably anyone other than the Packers’ opponents would like.
On the flip side, these are the best options the Packers have.
In his career, Williams has averaged 13.3 yards per punt return with longs of 94 yards in 2007 and 45 yards in 2009. Nelson has averaged 23.4 yards on kick returns in his career, with a long of 54 yards in 2009 and 45 yards in 2008. Jackson has averaged only 18 yards per kickoff return on two career returns and Jennings averaged only 5.8 yards on five career punt returns — all in 2006.
I don’t like having Tramon back there one bit. We can’t afford to lose him.
How bout having either Jackson or Nelson catch the kicks and have them hand it off to Shields and let his explosiveness and speed take over? sounds good to me, excect Shields is our nickel corner and we cant afford to lose him either. and hey, the Seahawks released Julius Jones and since we don have a 3rd RB, how bout we sign him and release a FB? just imagine a three headed monster with Grant, Jackson, and Jones? Thats something I can only dream of…. sigh….
I hate the idea of Williams or Jennings back there at all.
I really think Jordy can do it – provided that we block. We put way too much stock into finding a magic cure all returner. The fact of the matter is that we blocked horribly last year.
MM and TT think the reward outweighs the risk. If you want to win you put your best players on the field not on the bench.
Williams career average of 13.3 yards per punt return would have been good for second in the league (amongst those with 20 returns or more)last year behind only All-Pro DeSean Jackson. NE and SD let Wes Welker and Darren Sproles return punts last season, those guys (Jackson included) are at least as important to them as Williams is to the Packers.
With Williams at Punt Returner last year they may have won an additional game, and gotten the home playoff game that would have accompanied it.