LIONS INSIDER

Ross could have competition for punt return duties in Tate

Posted Mar 15, 2014

Jeremy Ross was one of the best return men in the NFL last season, but the newly signed Golden Tate is a good punt returner in his own right

Competition is never a bad thing training camp.

When it comes to who’s returning punts for the Detroit Lions in 2014, incumbent Jeremy Ross could have some competition for the job in the newly signed Golden Tate.

Ross 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.

Ross’ punt return average of 16.2 yards was ahead of Baltimore’s Tandon Doss, who officially finished atop the list of punt returners with a 15.6 average on 23 returns, because Ross didn’t have the 20 returns needed to be considered among the NFL leaders.

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.

Ross has to be considered the favorite to win both jobs full time in 2014, but he could have competition from Tate on the punt return side of things.

Tate returned 51 punts for 585 yards (11.5 average) and was extremely sure handed in those duties.

“I had a chance to chat with the special teams coach (John Bonamego) today also,” Tate said during his introductory press conference on Wednesday. “I look forward to any time I can get the ball in my hands and try to create a big play. I want it.”

Having options is a good thing for a football team. Bonamego and the Lions could have some decisions to make when it comes to their return game come training camp.

“I’m not sure what the plan is as far the return game goes,” Tate said. “You know, I just hope I get the opportunity to prove myself and compete for that job and if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be. But we’ll see.”