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Thursday, December 13, 2012
Your call: Who should return punts?

By Mike Reiss

One of the topics that came up in our weekly ESPNBoston.com Patriots chat is the punt return role. With top punt returner Julian Edelman on season-ending injured reserve, the Patriots turned to Wes Welker in Monday night's win over the Texans.

Some are concerned about Welker being exposed to more injury risk in that role.

The feeling here is that at this time of year, when the margin for error is thinned and conditions start to become more of a factor, ball-handling becomes even more important. Welker is as reliable of an option as the Patriots have, and if the team is going down, it might as well go down with its best.

Then there's the question: If not Welker, then who?

Tight end Aaron Hernandez and safety Patrick Chung are the other top options. Outside of Edelman and Welker, however, no other player has returned a punt in the 2012 regular season.

Vote in the accompanying poll, and share thoughts in the comments section of this blog entry, and we'll see where things stand later in the day and perhaps revisit this topic.