The standard thinking is you don’t want your best players (or starters) returning kicks or punts because there’s an increased chance of injury. The Green Bay Packers appear ready to throw that notion out this year and let either Randall Cobb or Micah Hyde return something or other.
Hyde and Cobb appear to the be frontrunners to return punts at this point. Third-string running back DuJuan Harris is currently the top guy on kickoff returns, but Cobb is in play there as well.
While we might have bitched about this in the past, we’ve changed our thinking.
Fuck it. Put ’em back there!
I don’t recall who, but someone recently asked when is the last time you saw someone get injured on a punt return? Well, the answer is I can’t remember, so it’s obviously been a while.
Coach Mike McCarthy is also ready to throw caution to the wind.
“I think it’s dangerous to get into limitations and trying to be too cautious. When you get cautious and worry negative things happen. So we’re going to put our best players out there. We need to be better on special teams and a good returner makes any return unit better,” he said.
Yeah, actually where you need to get better is on the coverage units, but that’s another discussion. The Packers have been just fine on returns since Cobb has been around.
He’s averaged 26.2 yards per kickoff return and 10.2 yards per punt return over his three seasons. He’s also returned three kicks for touchdowns — two punts and a kickoff. The Packers took Cobb off returns last year, before he got injured, so he could focus on offense. Their return units ended up being pretty ho-hum until they plugged Hyde in.
Hyde averaged 12.3 per punt return (one touchdown) and 24.1 per kick return in 2013.
Surely, the Packers will end up looking at a bunch of guys on returns. However, if they really want the best guys in those positions, then Hyde is the punt returner and Cobb is the kickoff returner.