Jeremy Ross’ performance as a punt and kickoff returner the past two weeks was good enough that he'll probably at least share of those duties this week even though Randall Cobb is back from an ankle injury.
Ross is averaging an impressive 25.8 yards on four punt returns and 28.7 yards on three kickoff returns since Cobb injured his ankle two weeks ago against Tennessee.
The Packers are looking to eventually get Cobb off return duties because of his value in the passing game, but he also is one of the NFL’s best dual return man. But the Packers now have enough confidence in Ross to use him in this week’s wild-card playoff game against Minnesota, and it wouldn’t be a shock if he were their primary return man.
“We can use both guys,” said Shawn Slocum, the Packers’ special teams coach. “In the last two ballgames Jeremy’s production has demonstrated that he’s capable of being an impactful returner. That helps us because it gives us more depth in the position, and we’ll look at Randall where he’s at as we get closer to game time in terms of his physical situation, and we’ll move forward.”
Ross, who is 6-feet tall, has great size for a return man at 215 pounds, and one of his best qualities is his ability to run through tackles on both punt and kickoff returns.
“His strength is impressive, he looks strong through the core in the tackles he broke last week,” Slocum said. “He’s a good catcher of the ball, he’s got good anticipation of where the guys are going to be on a punt return.”
Slocum said he has confidence in Ross’ ball security because of his advanced ability to read punt coverages as the ball is kicked and also follow the flight of the ball.
The Packers signed Ross to their practice in October and promoted him to their 53-man roster on Dec. 1. He was on the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad last season and then was cut in training camp this year. In college at the University of California he averaged 15.2 yards on punt returns.
“Given the two opportunities he’s had the last two weeks his production has shown he’s a very capable NFL returner,” Slocum said.