Tough test for improved special teams

The Packers already know all about KC returnman Dante Hall's reputation – they don't plan on adding to it this Sunday when the undefeated Chiefs visit Lambeau Field.<p> Hall.<P>

"Trust me, the players know who Dante Hall is right now," Packer coach Mike Sherman said. "If they watched SportsCenter, they're very familiar with has he's done and what he's accomplished."

Hall has four return touchdowns in five games this season – two on punts and two on kickoffs. Hall brought his already impressive credentials into Denver last week, but the Broncos couldn't help becoming another of his victims. Hall broke through for a 93-yard punt return that propelled the Chiefs to their fifth win.

"This guy is special," Packers' special teams coordinator John Bonamego said. "It's not something you're going to fix in one week. You are either building on what you already have and you're fundamentally sound, or you've got holes that you're trying to cover up." Fortunately for Green Bay, they fall into the first category – building on an already sound reputation on special teams so far in 2003. The Packers counter Hall with their own special teams' resume, which is sparkling under Bonamego. Green Bay ranks first in the league in punt coverage this season, allowing only 4.4 yards per return, and rank second in the NFC in kickoff coverage, giving up just 19.0 yards per return. Those numbers are especially in comparison to previous seasons when the coverage was a sore spot for the Pack.

So far, the Packers have not been hurt by a return this season. No Packer opponent has averaged more than 23.5 yards on kickoff returns, and no better than 11 yards on a punt return. The longest kickoff return against the Pack this season has been a 38-yarder by Detroit's Eddie Drummond. That return took the Lions to their own 48, but they went 3-and-out on the ensuing offensive series.

Admittedly, they haven't faced the likes of Hall. The Packers got a sampling of Hall in the lightning-shortened pre-season opener vs. the Chiefs. Hall had one punt return for 14 yards and one kickoff return for 16 yards. In regular-season action, Bonamego has faced Hall in the past, as Jacksonville's special teams coach.

Here's a rundown of the returnmen the Packers have faced so far this season and the team's mostly successful results:

Kickoff returns: Week 1 vs.. Vikings: Josh Avery 2 returns, 47 yards with a long of 28, for a 23.5-yard average. Week 2 vs. Lions: Eddie Drummond , 5 returns, 115 yards with a long of 38 for a 23.0-yard average.

Week 3 at Cardinals: Josh Scobey 3 returns for 63 yards with a long of 29 for a 21-yard average.

Week 4 at Bears: Ahmad Merritt 6 returns for 110 yards with a long of 26 for a 18.3-yard average; Rabih Abdullah, 1 return for 8 yards.

Week 5 vs. Seahawks: Maurice Morris 6 returns for 95 yards with a long of 21 for a 15.8-yard average.

Punt returns:

Week 1 vs. Vikings: Keenan Howry, 1 return for 0 yards

Week 2. vs. Lions: E.Drummond 2 returns for 8 yards with a long of 5 yards.

Week 3 at. Cardinals: Anquan Boldin : 2 returns for 12 yards with a long of 7

Week 4. at Bears: R.W. McQuarters, 1 return for 11 yards.

Week 5. vs. Seahawks: Damien Robinson 1 return for 0 yards.


Packer Report Top Stories