The Green Bay Packers unofficial depth chart came out earlier this week, and second-year wide receiver Amari Rodgers was listed as the starting punt and kick return man. However, those jobs are not quite yet his.
The Packers punt and kick return roles remain up for grab prior to their Week 1 matchup with Minnesota
When special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia was meeting with reporters on Thursday, he said that Rodgers was rotating at those return positions with “a slew of guys.” Bisaccia also added that the job was not yet settled, and he would speak with Matt LaFleur as the week progresses.
As a rookie, Rodgers was the primary punt returner for the Packers, but he had his struggles. He was unreliable when it came to fielding the punts, and when he did do that successfully, he was often indecisive, which resulted in a minimal gain.
Overall, Rodgers averaged 8.0 yards per punt return, which ranked 23rd out of 36 eligible returners, according to PFF ($$). A few decent punt returns late in the season helped elevate his average.
The kick return duties belonged to Kylin Hill before his injury and Malik Taylor thereafter. Rodgers had only two kick return attempts while at Clemson.
This summer, however, Rodgers did look much more comfortable and decisive in that return man role throughout practice. On three preseason attempts, Rodgers averaged 27.7 yards as a kick returner, which included a 50-yard return but just 4.5 yards on two punt attempts–although it’s not like the blocking was all that great.
Possibly competing with Rodgers for these duties are Randall Cobb, Keisean Nixon, and Romeo Doubs, all of whom were listed behind him on the depth chart.
Cobb doesn’t have that playmaking ability that he once did, but he has experience and would provide stability, an element that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Doubs was a very effective punt returner at Nevada, averaging over 12 yards per return on 37 career attempts with a touchdown. Meanwhile, Nixon has just six career kick return attempts — and no punt return chances — averaging 14.0 yards per return.
Christian Watson, an All-American kick returner at North Dakota State, could be another option.
This is a Green Bay Packers team that may not score points at the same clip as they have in the past, and they’ll also be more reliant on their defense, all of which will make improved special teams play a must.