Kick return unit facing changes

October, 9, 2012
10/09/12
9:00
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IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys moved running back Lance Dunbar to the active roster Monday with the goal of putting him on special teams.

Coach Jason Garrett said Dunbar can return kicks and play a gunner role on the special teams unit.

If Dunbar moves to the return team, could this mean Felix Jones' days as the lead kick returner are over?

Jones has struggled at this spot, averaging 21.5 yards per return, 24th in the NFL. He's only returned three kicks the last two games mainly because the kickers have sent them too deep into the end zone. In the Chicago game, Robbie Gould sent seven of his kicks into the end zone, five for touchbacks.

That's not Jones' fault, yet, his 236 kick return yards and lack of speed raise concerns about his availability on the unit.

"If you evaluate it, there are a lot of areas where we can get better," Garrett said. "We can certainly block it better. You like to think the returner can make some things happen as well. It's not been a strength for us. We got to do a better job of getting our offense a better drive start. We'll look at that and continue to look at that."

Jones isn't the only man in the end zone waiting on kicks. Dwayne Harris and Phillip Tanner are the other returners, but have yet to return a kick.

The Cowboys worked out Kevin Ogletree, Morris Claiborne and Dunbar on kick returns in practice the first month of the season. None have gotten a chance to do it in a game.

It might be time to make a switch, especially if Jones isn't producing as a kick returner.

Special teams ace Danny McCray said he's surprised the kick return game has struggled this season.

"For as hard as we work, yeah," he said. "By far one of the hardest positions or hardest phases of the game is kick return, so we just got to keep working at it and getting there."

On his Tuesday morning radio show on KRLD-FM, Jerry Jones said he's not sure if Felix Jones is being taken off the unit because he still has a burst but on Dunbar he mentioned, "got some burst to find the soft spot."

Jerry Jones would like to see how Dunbar looks in practices this week before making a full-time move.

"If you look at the film, there’s one block here or one person there not just the whole team," McCray said. "On that team, if one person doesn’t get their block, it just looks bad."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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