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Sunday open thread: Who will win the Lions’ return specialist job?

The Detroit Lions don’t have a clear cut return specialist. Who do you think will win the camp competition?

Denver Broncos v Detroit Lions Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

12 more Sundays to go. In less than three months the 2017 regular season will be upon us. The Detroit Lions will host the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1, Detroit’s first home opener since their 2014 contest against the New York Giants.

Between now and then, the Lions have a lot of work to do. They have to get their draft picks and free agents accustomed to the way things work in Detroit. They have to get their injured players in playing shape and try to maintain their healthy players’ status. And, maybe more importantly, the Lions need to determine winners in a handful of positional battles.

One of the most underrated camp battles will be for the Lions’ return specialist job. With Andre Roberts playing ball with Atlanta Falcons now, Detroit will have a new returner in 2017. So today’s Question of the Day is:

Who will win the Detroit Lions’ return specialist job?

My answer: While it’s no guarantee that whoever wins this job will return both kickoffs and punts—like Roberts did—I’m going to go ahead and assume they will.

Based on minicamp reports, the competition seems like it’s currently between Jace Billingsley, Keshawn Martin, TJ Jones and Jamal Agnew. Jared Abbrederis may be part of the competition, too, but he’s currently dealing with an injury.

Right now, I’d go with Jones. Despite Kenny Golladay putting on a show over the past month, Jones has been getting first-team reps with the offense. The fact that he adds special teams abilities, too, makes him quite valuable as the team’s fourth receiver. While Jones didn’t return any punts or kicks last year, he did return seven punts and five kickoffs in 2015. He didn’t make any big plays as a returner, but didn’t make any egregious mistakes either.

In terms of experience, Jones is only matched by Martin, who has been extremely quiet during OTAs and minicamp. Martin has returned 94 punts and 80 kickoffs in his career, but in the past two years, he’s barely done any returning in the NFL.

The younger options in Billingsley, Abbrederis and Agnew are all intriguing choices, but at this point, we know far less about their abilities to return than Jones or Martin.

So give me Jones, as it appears the Lions value him on offense enough to justify a roster spot, and that may be enough to earn him returning duties, as well.

Your turn.


Who will win the Detroit Lions’ return specialist job?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    TJ Jones
    (128 votes)
  • 8%
    Keshawn Martin
    (76 votes)
  • 24%
    Jace Billingsley
    (212 votes)
  • 42%
    Jamal Agnew
    (372 votes)
  • 4%
    Jared Abbrederis
    (44 votes)
  • 5%
    (49 votes)
881 votes total Vote Now

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