Cowboys looking for boost in return game

OXNARD, Calif. -- One area the Dallas Cowboys need dramatic improvement in from 2011 is the return game.

The Cowboys averaged 23.3 yards per kick return and 7.1 yards per punt return.

The Cowboys hope to have an easy remedy in Felix Jones on kick returns and Dez Bryant on punt returns.

“I think it’s going to help,” special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. “Again, it’s all going to predicate on injuries and those things, but you’ve got to make sure both are able to do it. That’s the big key. And we’ve got to keep striving to get the other parts of the return units upgraded and by that I mean personnel. We’ve got to make sure personnel-wise you’re able to compete with the people you’re blocking. You watch Devin Hester and everybody says, ‘He’s a great returner,’ and he is but watch the gashes he’s running through. A lot of that is on the guys blocking for him.”

Jones has a 98-yard kick return for a score to his credit and a 24.5-yard average in three seasons. Bryant averaged 14.3 yards per punt return as a rookie and had two touchdowns. Last year he averaged only 6.7 yards a return.

“It’s important positions, both the punt return and kick returner because they handle the ball,” coach Jason Garrett said. “You need guys who handle the ball and if the guys can be playmakers like those two it’s a bonus. We’ll evaluate it on a week-by-week basis, but we like those guys as our lead guys in both situations because they can make difference-making plays.”