With the Detroit Lions failing to land Josh Cribbs, it appears they are going to focus on in-house candidates as they continue to search for a new returner. They need to replace Stefan Logan, who struggled mightily last season as both the kick and punt returner, and at this point their best bet may simply be someone who is already on the roster.
So who exactly has a shot to land the job? Tim Twentyman reports that seven different players got a chance to return punts during Wednesday's OTA: running backs Reggie Bush and Steven Miller and wide receivers Mike Thomas, Patrick Edwards, Lance Long, Terrence Austin and Cody Wilson. It's unknown who is in the mix for the kick returner job, but these seven players are evidently being considered for the punt return unit.
Bush is by far the most notable player on the list. Actually, he's really the only player on the list who is a lock to make the 53-man roster. Bush is expected to start at running back, and Jim Schwartz hinted at the possibility of using Bush on special teams a couple months ago. The obvious downside would be risking injury, but the upside is that having Bush return punts would put the ball in the hands of one of the Lions' most explosive players.
Guys like Miller, Edwards, Long, Austin and Wilson really need to perform well on special teams to simply make the 53-man roster. Winning the return job would obviously go a long way toward solidifying a spot on the roster for those guys, and the same could also really be said for Thomas. At this point I think it would be a surprise if he doesn't make the team considering the Lions traded for him last season, but his spot on the roster is by no means locked down. If someone like Kris Durham outperforms him at wide receiver and someone like Edwards wins the returner job, Thomas may not have a place on the 53-man roster.
Of the seven players mentioned, who would you most like to see returning kicks and/or punts for the Lions in 2013?