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Lions camp battles: Starting returner

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Who will emerge as the Detroit Lions' starting returner?

USA TODAY Sports

As we continue to get ready for Detroit Lions training camp, we're going to examine some of the position battles that will be worth keeping an eye on over the course of the next month and a half or so. Last up is the battle for the starting returner job.

Before the 2010 season, the Lions made a great move by adding Stefan Logan off the waiver wire. Logan instantly upgraded their kick and punt return units, and he became a weapon on special teams for the Lions during the 2010 season.

Unfortunately for both Logan and the Lions, he wasn't nearly as good in the following two seasons. Logan's struggles began in 2011, and it got to the point where he was benched at the end of the 2012 season. The Lions made it known that the time had come to find a new returner, and they will look for one in training camp and the preseason this year.

The candidates

For me, the top candidate to become the Lions' returner is Micheal Spurlock, who joined the team in June. Spurlock is a return specialist, and he has put up some pretty impressive numbers over the years. If the Lions want to roll with someone whose main job will be returning kicks and punts, Spurlock seems like the way to go.

Other serious candidates to return kicks and/or punts for the Lions are Joique Bell, Steven Miller, Mike Thomas and Patrick Edwards. Bell (kick) and Thomas (punt) became the returners at the end of last season when Logan was finally benched, and Edwards could really bolster his case to make the team if he impresses as a returner. The same goes for Miller, who will probably only make the team if he is able to win the return job.

Two other names worth mentioning for the return job are Reggie Bush and Darius Slay. Bush has been talked about as a potential situational returner, and Slay said after he was drafted that he wants to return kicks for the Lions. I can't imagine either player will get the full-time return job, but they're at least in the conversation to be involved with the return units.

Who has the edge right now?

This is tough to say considering there are so many players in the mix, but I have to go with Spurlock. He scored 2 touchdowns on returns last season, and the Lions seemingly signed him to be their return specialist.

Previously: Third-string quarterback, No. 4 wide receiver, starting right guard, starting right tackle, starting left outside linebacker, starting right cornerback, starting kicker