The Green Bay Packers will be staring at a familiar face on Thursday in former returner Jeremy Ross, who’s handling the kickoff and punt duties for the Detroit Lions.
The 25-year-old Ross took over returns for the Packers late last season as they began to wean Randall Cobb off special teams, but was released after muffing a kickoff against Cincinnati in September and generally being ineffective.
Ross signed to Detroit’s practice squad shortly thereafter and was promoted to the active roster last month. In last week’s 24-21 loss to Tampa Bay, he had a 42-yard punt return and a pair of kickoff returns for 49 yards.
The 6-foot receiver out of California is one of only two players the Packers have released since the cutdown to 53 players in September; rookie running back Michael Hill is the other.
“Well, their scheme is a little different and you try to educate ourselves on what they’re doing scheme-wise,” Packers special teams coach Shawn Slocum said. “We’re familiar with Jeremy and he’s a good strong runner.”
The Packers still haven’t found an answer for replacing Cobb on kickoff returns. They still rank last in the NFL with a 17.8-yard per return average.
With Micah Hyde dealing with a groin injury, the Packers planned to use running back Johnathan Franklin in that capacity, but Hyde went back in during Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings after Franklin left with a concussion and neck injury after the first kickoff.