Free agent return specialists

One of a talented group of return specialists available through free agency this off-season may just give the Packers what they need to overcome their special teams problems of a year ago. Of course, better blocking would not hurt, either.

The Packers brought in 13-year veteran Eric Metcalf for the final two games, gave rookie J.J. Moses a brief chance, and stuck with Darrien Gordon for 13 games last season, but even the slightest of sparks on punt returns was just not evident. The same went for kickoff returns, where the Packers were also near the bottom of the league in average per return.

The Packers have already signed two return men this off-season in Martin Dossett, out of Baylor, and Kenyatta Morgan, out of Montana St., who will play in NFL Europe this spring.

However, if they want someone with experience to compete that is not currently on the roster, they could make an upgrade with some of the following unrestricted free agents: Michael Bates (Panthers), MarTay Jenkins (Cardinals), Jermaine Lewis (Texans), Brian Mitchell (Eagles), and Charlie Rogers (Bills).

Lewis, 28, and Mitchell, 34, have been long-time standouts as returners and have made a name for themselves through their special teams play. Lewis was released by the Texans on Feb. 20 and is probably the most attractive return man because of his age and multi-dimensional ability. He is coming off his worst year, however, primarily because of injuries. Mitchell was second in the NFC in kickoff return average (27.0) and third in punt return average (12.3).

Jenkins and Rogers are also two young players, at 28 and 26 respectively, who have made an impact in the league in their short careers. Both scored touchdowns on kickoffs a year ago, and Jenkins led the NFL in kick return average (28.0 on 20 returns) before his season ended with a fractured scapula.

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