Let me start by saying there may not be a person on the Miami Dolphins that I trust more with the ball in his hands than Jarvis Landry. Landry, who is still waiting a contract extension, is the most electric player the Dolphins have on either side of the ball.
He can take a 10 yard slant and turn it into a 70 yard touchdown in under 10 seconds. He can get a first down on a 3rd and 20 even when the opposing defense knows he is about to get the ball. He is that good and he has that game-changing play in him every time he touches the ball.
For the first two seasons of his NFL career, Jarvis Landry has been returning punts for the Miami Dolphins. I understand why. Jakeem Grant showed flashes of greatness in the return game last year, but also showed inconsistency, failing to secure balls and making poor decisions when to fair catch or stay in the end zone, and when to bring the ball out.
Therefore, it came as no surprise that Dan Rizzi would stick Jarvis out there in order to field punts. His hands are coated in glue, and he makes great decisions.
However, entering 2017, I hope that Jarvis Landry's days returning punts are over, or at least limited to special occasions. Jakeem Grant has been putting in work this off season, and even flew Matt Darr out to Texas to put in special work bettering his return skills. He has taken the incentive to fix his woes, and is claiming the return game as his own.
If Grant shows improvement and fixes his ball security issues, that means the Dolphins can leave Landry on the sideline on 4th downs and keep him safe from one of the most injury-prone phases of the game. Having Landry fresh and healthy for offense would make a huge difference.
Should Grant continue to struggle into his sophomore season, the Dolphins also have second round RB and returner Kenyan Drake, who took a kickoff return to the house last year against the New York Jets. Drake is as explosive as Grant with the ball in his hands.
If the game is on the line, and the Dolphins simply need the ball to be fair-caught on a punt, by all means go with your most sure-handed player and put Landry out there. But the punts he returns, the greater his chances for injury.
I am looking forward to seeing the improvement from Grant and Drake in the return game this year.