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NAPA – The Raiders don’t have an established return man on the roster. A team hoping to win games with ball control and tough defense could certainly use a dynamic presence to fight the battle for field position.
The Raiders are on the hunt for one this training camp. They’re trying several options, including skill players from atop the depth chart.
They’re in the audition phase, with more casting possibilities than could fit in a preseason game or two.
Here’s a list of players Raiders have used in return periods thus far:
Kickoff returns: Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew, Taiwan Jones, TJ Carrie, George Atkinson III, Latavius Murray, Greg Jenkins
Punt returns: Denarius Moore, Jones-Drew, Carrie, Mike Davis, Jenkins
Whew. Long lists to say the least.
“Kick returner and punt returner, those are going to be positions that we’re going to have to let play out throughout the preseason,” head coach Dennis Allen said, “before we kind of settle into where we’re going with those positions.”
Makes sense. You need to see these guys in action before making final decisions.
Based on practice reps, Allen singled out Moore and Carrie in the punt return game.
Atkinson III, son of Raiders legend George Atkinson, was expected to be a frontrunner to return kicks and punts after doing so at Notre Dame, but he’s made some mistakes early in camp.
“Well, I think the guy’s explosive and he’s got some talent,” Allen said. “He’s got to do a better job of hanging onto the ball. The last couple days he’s put a couple balls on the ground. … The first thing you’ve got to be able to do as a returner is you’ve got to be able to secure the football. So he’s got talent, but he’s got to do a better job of focusing in and maintaining possession of the ball.”