Special teams effects the outcome of each game. A great deal can happen on a punt or kickoff return that can give your team all the momentum. Jim Irsay has stressed in the Andrew Luck era that our team needs to be better. Consider we have been ranked in the bottom of the league each of the last many seasons and I suppose there’s nowhere to go but up.
So far, the Luck era has been looking significantly exalted, especially with T.Y. Hilton returning punts for touchdowns. Hilton is our best punt returner, but I wouldn’t want the Colts risking injury to him because of his playmaking abilities on offense. A cornerstone is vital to our success, and Hilton will deliver for our receiving core. I’m not saying to never let him return punts, because he obviously performed an impressive year averaging 11.5 yards. I feel finding appropriate times is the key. Returning punts when the game is on the line is the ideal skill he needs to exercise, for example how Desean Jackson returned the game winning punt against the Giants when the clock ran out. This way he still is able to make plays, but he won’t be exposed to injury nearly as often.
We should give the job to another candidate since we want individuals to fight for this spot, and who knows, perhaps we may even find a prolific player further down the road. For instance, the Patriots signed an undrafted free agent Benjarvus Green-Ellis, who started out on special teams as he proved to himself and the rest of us, as he soon saw himself starting. The Colts should go this route when selecting a new PR. Plus, if none of them pan out we can always put Hilton back at PR in a pinch.
The person I would nominate is Kerwynn Williams. He was a 7th round pick out of Utah State Aggies, where he was a PR and KR his first 2 years, but soon found himself starting his 3rd year. He has incredible speed for his short stature. I honestly believe once he becomes comfortable he can be our next Danny Woodhead, but for now the only way he’ll see the field is on special teams. Now, don’t let the fact that he was drafted in the 7th round affect your judgment on him, because a lot of great running backs have been drafted late or haven’t been undrafted at all. The Colts should allow other players to return punts for now and see what all of them can do.
For our KR, the Colts had Cassius Vaughn return a kickoff Sunday against the Giants. He has speed to burn, which is a big factor when choosing the kick returner. Unfortunately he fumbled the ball when he was hit. The Colts recovered, but we can’t allow turnovers to happen, especially so early in a game.
Kerwynn Williams also returned a kickoff and he did okay with it – nothing to write home about. You would think that he would be better, because in college he made you look twice when he returned a kick. He may be learning that everything is faster in the NFL. The Colts just signed WR Maurice Williams out of the AFL on Tuesday. He has been a WR, DB, and kickoff returner. He returned 35 kickoffs for 628 yards averaging 17.9 yards while returning 2 for touchdowns. By this signing they’re saying that no one has stepped up for KR. I don’t know how returning kicks in the AFL will translate into the NFL, but Ryan Grigson wouldn’t have brought him in if he didn’t see talent. I don’t see this signing any more than him just being a camp body.
The kick returner is an important role because when you start your drive from the 20-yard line on your side you only have a 10-15% chance of scoring a touchdown. Having a kickoff specialist that can get us past the 20 yard line will help the offense even more. I’m excited for the new way the Colts are looking at special teams and how they recognize that it is just as important as offense and defense.
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