ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- At the moment, there are seven punt returners in the NFL who have touched the ball enough to qualify in the league rankings and who have also averaged over 10 yards a return.
But only one of those seven happens to be a 100-catch game-changer at wide receiver as well. And the Denver Broncos, who will get an up-close look Sunday at Antonio Brown in Pittsburgh, know exactly what he can do to you.
"I've looked at Brown in the return game and I've got about three hours of sleep this week thinking about Brown," Broncos special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis said. "In my opinion he's the best punt returner in the league. You can tell he's passionate about what he wants to do back there."
Brown has four punt returns for touchdowns in his career, including a 71-yarder against the Indianapolis Colts that turned into point-and-click gold when he finished the play off with his leap into the goal post. Brown has averaged over 10 yards per punt return in three previous seasons, including 2013 when he was tied for third in the league at 12.8 yards per return.
And while some teams have jitters about using starters in that role, the Steelers have no such concerns with Brown, moving him in and out of the role at times this season. In the Dec. 6 game against the Colts, Brown had eight catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns on offense to go with the punt return score.
"It's not just like -- some starters you see back there, they don't have the passion," DeCamillis said. "This guy, he wants the ball in his hands and he wants to take it to the house every time. You never can quit on a return with this guy. He wants to make a play all the time ... he's a special guy."
DeCamillis, who had Devin Hester as his punt return during DeCamillis' time with the Chicago Bears, said Thursday he would put Brown in that same class.
"We know it's a challenge, you can't make a mistake because he will take advantage of it," Broncos special teams captain David Bruton Jr. said. "He can take advantage sometimes even if you don't make a mistake. Guys like that you have to do everything right."