In search of a return man

The Green Bay Packers are taking a good look at Richard Lewis of North Dakota State, and many other candidates to return punts and kickoffs this season.<p>

At their recent post-draft minicamp, the Packers took a look at wide receivers Robert Ferguson, Terry Glenn and rookie Javon Walker, safety Scott Frost, Lewis and others as punt and kickoff returners.

"(Special teams coach) Frank Novak is a possibility to return punts for us," Packers coach/GM Mike Sherman said. "If he's the best guy ... we're going to investigate every opportunity we have. Certainly Terry has skill at catching and, obviously, has a short period of burst, which can make people miss. That's a criteria for a punt returner. We're going to practice him and others back there as well."

Lewis is possessor of 4.4 speed in the '40.' The two-time NCAA Division II All-American posted 30 pass receptions over the past two seasons and averaged 14.3 yards for 53 punt returns, running back four for touchdowns. He also averaged 22.9 yards for 25 kickoff returns, including one return for a score.

Sherman said he would prefer a player that can play a position as well as return punts and kickoffs. For the last two seasons, Allen Rossum doubled as a return specialist and cornerback, but Rossum left via free agency for Atlanta this off-season.

"Until I can be convinced that he'll be part of the 45-man roster and who are we going to sit down to do that," said Sherman "... One of the most difficult things I do every Saturday night is figure out the 45. Last year it was a lot easier when your eighth defensive back is also your return guy. If your return man is just that and someone else has to sit those are tough decisions."


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