On Monday, the Green Bay Packers released wide receiver/kick returner Jeremy Ross. During his time with the Packers, Ross took over as the main return man in order for the Packers to save Randall Cobb for their offense. Cobb took the NFL by storm from his first career game, where he returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints. But, Cobb has become a bigger weapon into the Packers offensive gameplay, so he was relieved of his return duties.
With Cobb no longer returning kicks, Ross was tabbed as the Packers new return man. In his two seasons with the Packers, Ross only appeared in eight games. In those eight games, Ross made two costly mistakes. In the NFC Divisional playoffs against the San Francisco 49ers last season, Ross fumbled a punt while the Packers were leading 14-7 in the second quarter. The 49ers scored a touchdown following the fumble and eventually won the game. Last week against the Cincinnati Bengals, Ross muffed the Packers during his first return of the day. The Bengals recovered and scored on the next play. Since Ross was continuing to struggle, the Packers decided to release him.
With Ross now gone, the question the Packers have to answer during their bye week is who will become the team’s next return man. The first option for the Packers would have to be bringing Cobb back into that position. During his rookie season, he was electric when the ball was kicked his way. He brings that explosive element to the return game that would be great for the Packers. Along with his explosiveness, Cobb also brings the ability to secure the football, which is what cost Ross his job. The first goal as a return man is to secure the football, and Cobb has done a great job with that in the past. The one concern about bringing Cobb back to return is his health.
Other kick returners, such as Devin Hester and Josh Cribbs, have seemed to fall a few steps backwards after they both took beatings playing that position over the years. The fear is if Cobb is sent back to return kicks, he will suffer the same beating that Hester and Cribbs did, and will no longer be a dangerous weapon. Instead of turning to Cobb, the Packers could use rookies Johnathan Franklin and Micah Hyde to share the return duties. Franklin showed how dangerous he can be after rushing for over 100 yards against the Bengals. During the preseason, Hyde was sent back to return kicks and even though he did not have the explosive factor that Franklin or Cobb have, he did show that he could hang on to the football.
In my opinion, the Packers should put Franklin back there because of his quickness. As soon as running backs James Starks and Eddie Lacy are at full health, Franklin more than likely will not be the main running back. So, to keep him involved in the game plan, it would be a good call by the Packers to place him on the return team and let him showcase his talent. As long as they get someone who can hold onto the football, fans will be happy.