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Packers want Ross to simplify return game

Sep. 21, 2013
 

The Packers are looking for Jeremy Ross to return kicks with more of the freedom he showed late last season.

Ross, signed to their practice squad as a street free agent in the middle of the season, became one of Packers’ returners late last season and averaged 28.7 yards on three kickoff returns and 25.8 yards on four punt returns.

However, he fumbled the catch on a punt return in the Packers’ divisional round playoff loss at San Francisco and knew going into training camp his chances of making the team hinged on not turning over the ball as a return man.
Through two games this season, he’s averaging only 13.4 yards on four kickoff returns and 10.0 yards on two punt returns.

“He’s had four (kickoff) returns, and I think he’s tried so hard to do it the right way that he needs to be that young, naïve guy that took the ball north and south when he first got here,” said Shawn Slocum, the Packers’ special teams coach. “We talked about that. Just run, react to what you see. You can make things real complicated. We’ve got to back to simplifying it.”

The Packers don’t want to use receiver Randall Cobb much in the return game because their offense is built around his versatility as a slot receiver, and being a returner could wear him down and expose him more to injury. So far this season, they’ve used him as their returner on punts fielded deep in their own territory because he catches punts so well and is more likely to call a fair catch and thus not get hit.

Ross is their next-best return man.

“I’ll say this: (Ross has) done a good job with the punt returns,” Slocum said. “’I've been pleased with the couple opportunities he’s had. We’re talking about two different elements (with punts and kickoffs).”

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