Starter Pack: More returns for Hyde

A roundup of what’s happening on the Green Bay Packers beat.

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Less than a month ago, Micah Hyde was third on the depth chart at punt returner and was not even listed at kickoff returner.

When the Packers play the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football," there’s a good chance he will be the No. 1 guy at both spots.

Having already solidified the punt returner job perhaps even before his 93-yard return for a touchdown in the second quarter of Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers appear to be strongly considering the rookie cornerback for the kickoff return job, too.

The Packers pulled rookie running back Johnathan Franklin off of kickoff returns in the second half against the Vikings and replaced him with Hyde, although he never got a chance to return one. That move could be permanent.

“I just thought that he had success there at the end of the second quarter with the punt return and he’s been working on it and I felt like the first two returns, we didn’t get what we needed,” Packers special teams coach Shawn Slocum said. “I decided to go with him.”

Hyde may be just the one to do it. He has quickly made himself at home as a punt returner, something he did in college at Iowa. He took over the job after the Packers cut Jeremy Ross and lost Randall Cobb to a leg injury. He leads the NFL with an 18.6-yard average on 10 punt returns. However, he did not return kickoffs for the Hawkeyes.

The Packers rank dead last in the NFL in kickoff return average at 15.3 yards per return. That’s nearly 4 yards fewer than the Washington Redskins, who rank 31st in the league, and nearly 18 yards less than the league-leading Vikings.

“I think that we’ve been really not very effective there through the whole first part of the season,” Slocum said. “I think it’s time that we start generating some production in that area.”


  • On our ESPN.com Packers page, you can read about the balance that is developing on offense, where the Packers ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing yards per game and fifth in passing yards per game, what kind of protection linebacker Clay Matthews might have to play with after he has the pins removed from his broken right thumb next week and some of the hot issues from the Vikings’ game in the Upon Further Review feature.

  • At ESPNWisconsin.com, Jason Wilde revisited coach Mike McCarthy’s offseason promise for a better running game.

  • In the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Mike Vandermause wrote that the Packers are in a good spot at 5-2 considering that they should get some key players back and have a soft schedule coming up, and Weston Hodkiewicz’s notebook included the suggestion that even when starting inside linebacker Brad Jones returns from his hamstring injury, which could happen this week, fill-in Jamari Lattimore has played well enough to warrant some snaps.

  • In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tom Silverstein looked at the impressive pass-rush numbers since Matthews went out with a broken thumb, and Bob McGinn gave quarterback Aaron Rodgers a perfect score in his weekly Rating the Packers feature.