Last year, the Detroit Lions’ punt and kick return competition went down to the wire. Guys like TJ Jones and Jace Billingsley appeared to potentially have the lead for the competition, but both were surprise cuts in 2016. The Lions ended up going with Andre Roberts, which was quite unexpected at the time.
Roberts is gone now, and, at first, it looked like Keshawn Martin was going to follow in his footsteps. Much like Roberts, Martin has had a somewhat successful career as a returner. Although Martin didn’t show a lot as a receiver this preseason, he proved to be competitive as a returner.
But the Lions ended up releasing Martin on Monday, leaving the returner competition wide open with just one preseason game left to go. Jace Billingsley, TJ Jones, Jared Abbrederis, Dwayne Washington, Jamal Agnew and Golden Tate all remain possible contenders.
So today’s Question of the Day:
Which Lions player do you think will win the return job in 2017?
My answer: Although there’s a heated competition for Detroit’s fourth and fifth wide receiver job, I don’t think any of the receivers will end up claiming a spot on the team as a returner. Instead, I think the Lions will split the punt and kick return jobs between other players.
For the kick returner, I believe the Lions will roll with Dwayne Washington. He hasn’t been very good this offseason, and has even struggled with bobbles and muffs, but Detroit has used him more than anyone this preseason. To be honest, I hope I’m wrong, because aside from a touchdown during the 2016 preseason, Washington just doesn’t look like a good kick returner.
For punt returner, Jamal Agnew should be the Lions’ guy. The rookie cornerback is the most skilled returner on the roster, and although Agnew has yet to replicate his impressive touchdown in the mock game, he still looks better than any other returner on the roster.