Many of you who follow the Colts have been asking about the punt returner situation. There was a bit of a charade leading into the opener about Anthony Gonzalez fielding punts, but it didn’t come to life before he was hurt. And the guy who made the team to field kicks, Devin Moore, has taken a backseat on punts to starting cornerback Jerraud Powers.
Discussions about starters with big roles as returners always hit on Jason Sehorn, the one-time Giants corner who missed a season as a result of a preseason injury suffered as a returner.
Every coach and team measures such risk, and based on a transcript of coach Jim Caldwell on Thursday he doesn’t think it’s an unreasonable one for the Colts to use Powers in the role.
“It was a combination of a little bit of everything,” Caldwell said of the decision to use Powers. “He’s done it before. He’s very good at it. Even the week leading up to it we certainly didn’t give any definite declaration of who was actually going to do it, so we worked several guys back there, Pierre Garcon, Blair White, Anthony Gonzalez, Jerraud Powers and Brandon James. We had a number of guys that still work at it. Obviously, we felt that particular day with the situation we were facing that he would do a great job for us and that carried over to the second week, as well.”
Caldwell also talked about how many starters have special teams roles, singling out Philip Wheeler, Antoine Bethea and Melvin Bullitt while talking of how many starting offensive linemen are on the field-goal unit and how many starters are in the field-goal block group.
But linemen and even players who run down to cover kicks are not being targeted and tackled.
The Colts took a thorough look at three return candidates in the preseason – Moore, James and seventh-rounder Ray Fisher. It’s unfortunate none of them emerged as the best option to field punts. For now it looks like Powers, but I won’t be surprised if he’s not permanent in the role.
While it would be nice to bust some big ones, it’s usually been an area where Bill Polian teams have been willing to sacrifice play-making ability because the offense is capable of gaining the yards the special teams can’t.
It’s probably a safer strategy than putting a top cover guy at additional risk.