As I was slugging through traffic on my way to Virginia on Sunday, Todd Archer put up this post from Cowboys training camp. Apparently, the plan is to use wide receiver Dez Bryant on punt returns and backup running back Felix Jones as the kick returner this year. Which makes total sense and has the bosses fired up:
"We think that's really going to do wonders for our kicking game," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "We're going to let them work on it from the get-go. Obviously, we didn't do it with Felix last year because he was the starting running back and we didn't do it with Dez. This year, we think it'll make a big difference. Both guys were top guys come out of college. By letting them work on it every day, Joe (DeCamillis) thinks it'll make a big difference."
Yes, I would agree that having two of the best, most dynamic and most dangerous athletes on your team returning your kicks can make a big difference. Frankly, I never saw what was the holdup with Bryant as punt returner. He's big enough and young enough to handle the extra work. And if fear of injury was really going to govern your decisions, you'd never let any of these guys on the field to begin with. Bryant can be a difference-maker in the punt return game, and the way Jones operates in space with the ball in his hands leads one to believe he could do the same as a kick returner. Given the Cowboys' depth issues at key positions on offense and defense, finding and keeping a specialist just for return duties wouldn't make a lot of sense. These moves do.