Raiders turn to rookie returners?

September 23, 2011, 7:30 pm
Share This Post

ALAMEDA -- Not to spill any state secrets here, but it's no mystery that the Raiders' return game has been underwhelming, to say the least.Most of the reason, of course, is because Jacoby Ford is injured and missed the last game with a tweaked hamstring. And Nick Miller, who is averaging 15.3 yards on four kickoff returns with a long of 18 yards, and 19.0 yards on two punt returns with a long of 12 yards, struggled so mightily on return duty in Buffalo he was replaced by Rock Cartwright on the last kickoff.And while coach Hue Jackson has understandably been playing it close to the vest as to who his returners will be for the Raiders' home opener Sunday against the Jets -- "No, you know I'm not going to do that," he said Thursday when asked who his returners would be -- a pair of rookies lined up deep at the start of practice Friday.Denarius Moore was fielding punts, alongside Miller; Taiwan Jones was returning kickoffs.Moore practiced fielding punts in training camp and returned three for 20 yards in the exhibition season while having a 57-yard return nullified by penalty, though there are no stats of him returning punts in college at Tennessee.
Jones, meanwhile, averaged 22.8 yards per kickoff return at Eastern Washington, bringing back one of his 50 returns for a touchdown. He returned one for 17 yards in the preseason.So if Jones were to return kicks, just how comfortable would he be?"Yeah, I'm comfortable with it," Jones said Friday. "I've done it in high school, also in college, like you said. So, if (Coach) wants me back there, I'm just as excited as he is."Asked if he would have a different mentality returning kicks as opposed to running the ball out of the backfield, Jones shook his head."No, I think it's the same way," he said. "The way I think is, once I get the ball, I'm aiming to score. That's my mentality."The ball gets in your hands and if the coach is confident for you take it out no matter how deep it is, then I've got that confidence in myself as well. And if I get it, I'm shooting to score."Green Bay rookie Randall Cobb returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown in the NFL season opener against New Orleans on Sept. 8."Yeah, I saw that," Jones said. "It's definitely on my mind. But we'll see."Two games into his rookie season, the speedy Jones has carried the ball once, for four yards. Frustrating? Or learning experience?"Like you said, it's a learning experience and I trust Coach Hue knows what he's doing so it's just, for me to just be patient and my time will come," Jones said. "I'm just going to go to practice and put my work in out there and when it's my time, it's my time."

More Team Talk