Jeremy Ross an important weapon for Lions

Posted Mar 3, 2014

Jeremy Ross' punt (16.2) and kickoff return average (29.3) in 2013 would have placed him among the league leaders had he officially qualified with enough attempts

Take a look at the NFL punt and kickoff return leaders from this past NFL season and the name Jeremy Ross is nowhere to be found.

It’s because Ross didn’t have the minimum 20 punt or kickoff returns necessary to count toward the league leaders. He had 15 punt returns for 243 yards (16.2 average) and 15 kickoff returns for 439 yards (29.3) after taking over both duties fulltime from Micheal Spurlock midway through the season.

Jeremy RossWR Jeremy Ross (Photo: Gavin Smith)

Ross’ punt return average of 16.2 yards finished better than Baltimore’s Tandon Doss, who officially finished atop the list of punt returners with a 15.6 average on 23 returns.

Ross’ kickoff return average of 29.3 yards would have been fourth best in the NFL behind Cordarrelle Patterson (32.4), Dwayne Harris (30.6) and Quintin Demps (30.1) had he had 20 returns.

“I think he did a good job for us last year,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said of Ross. “Didn’t have quite enough returns to get into some of the categories with the leaders. The stats don’t really show up, but if he had a handful more returns, he’d be one of the top punt returners in the NFL right now.”

Ross scored on a 98-yard kickoff return and a 58-yard punt return in a game at Philadelphia this past season. He's just the second Lions player ever to accomplish the feat, joining Eddie Payton in 1977.

An exclusive rights free agent this offseason, Ross just might get an opportunity to see his name among the league leaders in 2014.

Ross, 25, will be back with the Lions next season and he’ll get first crack to win the return job out of training camp.

“He’s young, he has the upside, he’s still growing,” Mayhew said. “We might add to that group. You know, we’ve got Carlin Isles. We’re still working on his situation with the rugby deal overseas, but we’ve got some other guys that can return. Steven Miller, we might add a guy in the draft or free agency to that group, but I feel good about what we have right now.”

Ross could also be in the mix to contribute more this season as a slot receiver. Ryan Broyles could potentially start the year on the Physically Unable to Perform list coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon and the team already released veteran receiver Nate Burleson.

Ross has terrific size for the slot at 6-foot, 215 pounds, but had just five catches for 59 yards and a touchdown last season.

He is electric with the ball in his hands and the Lions will try to find ways to get it in his hands either on special teams or on offense in 2014.