Morning Roar: Ross sees special teams unit

The Lions, lying in wait for the new year...

DEARBORN, Mich. -- The past year has seen Jeremy Ross go from a player released for fumbling returns during an early season game with Green Bay to a dangerous player in the return game for Detroit.

Now, the former Cal Bear has some more confidence -- not only in his return skills but his entire special teams unit with the Detroit Lions.

"I think we're a great unit, man," Ross said Saturday at the Stephen Tulloch charity softball game. "I think we're going to go out there and do damage to people out there.

"I plan to be one of the best special teams units, the best special teams unit, in the National Football League."

If the Lions are able to do that, it'll begin with three players: Punter Sam Martin, the winner of the kicking battle between Giorgio Tavecchio and Nate Freese and Ross as the primary returner.

Ross had a breakout season for the Lions, returning 15 kicks for 439 yards and a touchdown and 15 punts for 243 yards and a touchdown once he started in the role for Detroit in Week 7 after being picked up following his release from the Packers. Martin, a rookie last season, had 72 punts and averaged 47.2 yards per punt with a 41.0 yard average.

The question will be at kicker, where the Lions will be breaking in a player who has never kicked in a regular-season game. Freese is a rookie out of Boston College. Tavecchio spent camp in 2012 with San Francisco and 2013 with Green Bay after coming from Cal as well.

As a group, the Lions were in the Top 15 in most special teams areas other than field goals last season. They hope to improve their special teams ranking with a full year of Ross returning the ball and potentially also being used as a special teams gunner on coverage units.

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