Opinion: Davis Should Return Punts

While the Bears are keeping their pick to return punts quiet, a closer look at the numbers shows the choice is clear.

Yes, Bobby Wade broke a 54-yard return for a touchdown against the Colts. Aside from that his 11.9 average drops to 4.8 yards per attempt. He has three fair catches out of ten possible tries, which shows he's still hesitant to go after the ball in traffic because of his history with dropping punts.

Wade was an accomplished punt returner at the University of Arizona, where he averaged 11.2 per attempt with one touchdown. The five-foot-10, 186-pounder has just two attempts in two years in the NFL, and fumbled his first attempt as a professional.

Rashied Davis averaged 13.5 yards per punt return and without his long run of 34 yards, he still has a 10.6 average. The fact that he fumbled during the return didn't help his case, but he's been playing with two sprained fingers on his left hand since the second day of training camp.

"Of course you have to forget it and keep playing, but yeah it pissed me off when it happened, but it happens, though," Davis said. "I can't really put the ball in my left hand so it leaves me vulnerable to somebody coming from the inside trying to knock the ball out."

There is an argument that Davis has not worked against the first string punt return team of other clubs. The other side of the coin is he hasn't had the first string blockers in front of him either, so his numbers could actually improve.

Davis seems unaffected by taking the ball in traffic and making a move up field, much the way R.W. McQuarters was able to do. His experience in the Arena League is invaluable as a punt returner because he's used to working on a narrower surface with less holes to run through compared to the width of an NFL field.

Both players are likely to be active on Sunday. The Bears have six receivers on the roster and Wade is expected to be the top choice in the slot. Davis is the fourth cornerback on the depth chart, but if Jerry Azumah weren't cleared to play he would move up a notch.

"I consider them both starters and it'll be a game time decision who we're going to go with," said special teams coach Dave Toub.

Toub also said he would consider flip-flopping Wade and Davis during the game depending on the situation, but wouldn't elaborate on when he would consider using each player.

For the long haul, Davis appears to most complete option. It's just a matter of how long it takes the coaching staff to realize the same thing.


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