SAN DIEGO -- ESPN's Sal Paolantonio mentioned in his pregame report from Qualcomm Stadium that an overlooked matchup for Sunday is how the New York Jets' kick coverage units will fare against San Diego Chargers return man Darren Sproles.
Let's explore that briefly.
The Jets have been surrendering some long returns. The Cincinnati Bengals averaged 25.6 yards per kickoff return, including a 56-yarder, in the wild-card round. The Bengals also returned one punt 23 yards.
In the regular season, the Jets allowed an average of 24.1 yards per kickoff return (tied for eighth highest in the NFL) and two touchdowns.
Sproles amassed 1,300 kickoff return yards (fourth in the league) for a 24.1-yard average.
"He's a gutsy guy. He's a tough, little guy," Jets special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said of Sproles. "He's got a great burst, very good vision and sees things well. He's a challenger.
"What he does, I think more than anything, when you watch him, he's full-speed. He's full go. He's not a guy that dances. He gets it and goes. Sometimes maybe it's not there, but he'll make that one step real quick and go. He's a dangerous guy. He's got some acceleration skills, that once he gets out, he can accelerate and run past people."