Ranking the returners in the AFC West

July, 5, 2010
7/05/10
12:00
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We’re completing our position-by-position rankings with the returners. It’s an interesting group, because it’s a work in progress for much of the division. But there’s some talent here:

1. Darren Sproles, San Diego: One of my favorite things to do on an NFL Sunday is to watch Sproles return a kick or a punt. The blogging stops and all attention is paid to this dynamic little man. He can score every time he touches the ball.

2. Eddie Royal, Denver: Royal is better at punt reruns than kick returns. He had two touchdowns on punt returns at San Diego last season and can make things happen. If healthy, running back J.J. Arrington may handle kickoff returns and rookie cornerback Perrish Cox could take on punt-return duties to spell Royal.

3. Dexter McCluster/Javier Arenas, Kansas City: The Chiefs could still use Jamaal Charles on kickoffs because he is so dynamic. But I think the team will want to save their star running back for offense. There’s a reason why both McCluster and Arenas were drafted in the second round. These guys are going to get a chance to shine in the return game.

4. Jacoby Ford, Oakland: The Raiders struggled in the return game last season. After starring on punt returns in 2008, Johnnie Lee Higgins struggled last season. I expect the super-fast Ford to get a chance to return punts and kicks in 2010. Like every other team in the division, except San Diego, the Raiders have question marks in their return game.

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN San Francisco 49ers reporter

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