Who Will Return Kicks for the Baltimore Ravens?


The history of the Baltimore Ravens is generally centered on the fantastic defense the organization has displayed in their short existence. You can make a case that since the start of the millennium, they are the top defensive team over that period. Year after year, they are a top-10 defense.

They do not get enough credit for the fantastic special teams they have had over that same span. Over the history of the franchise, the Ravens consistently have had some of the top returners in the league. In the early years of existence, the team was fortunate to have Jermaine Lewis, the franchise leader in just about every punt return category. B.J. Sams was a two-time All-Pro. Ed Reed was another terrific returner. Over the past three seasons, Jacoby Jones has been one of the top returners in football.

Jones will always be remembered for two plays that would ultimately bring another Super Bowl title to Baltimore. In the 2012 AFC Divisional playoff game against the Denver Broncos, he hauled in that 70-yard bomb for a touchdown with 31 seconds left to tie the score. The Ravens would go on to win the game, 38-35, and ultimately advance to the Super Bowl XLVII.

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He returned three kicks for a touchdown that regular season, and was the first player in NFL history to return two kicks over 105 yards in one season. Jones was voted to the 2012 Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams as a kick returner, but did not play because of the trip to New Orleans for the Super Bowl. His fourth kick return for a touchdown was the most memorable of the season, starting the second half of the Super Bowl with a 108-yard kickoff return, the longest play in Super Bowl or postseason history.

Jones re-signed with the team before the 2014 season, but would last just one more year as he was cut by the Ravens on February 25 for salary cap reasons. Now the former Lane College star is in San Diego after signing a two-year, $5.5 million deal with the Chargers. The question is who will take over for return duties?

Lardarius Webb certainly has the experience as a returner. He has a 26.4 career average on kick returns and a 9.8 average on punts. He has returned two for a touchdown, but since the 2012 season, he has returned just two punts as his focus has shifted to playing in the secondary. It would be hard to imagine the Ravens staff allowing their starting corner return kicks, especially after the injuries that plagued the position last season.

Michael Campanaro is a candidate for the job. He only returned two kicks last season for the Ravens, but was an effective returner while at Wake Forest. Asa Jackson is also an option. He started six games at corner before suffering a knee injury and being shut down for the season.

Potential free agent options are minimal. Leon Washington and Brad Smith have experience as a returner and are available. The draft is always an option too. This year’s class of wide receivers is deep and many of them have experience returning kicks. In the upcoming days, I will be releasing a full Ravens mock draft, and I have the Ravens drafting a potential returner.

It is going to be different to see someone other than Jacoby lining up to return kicks this season. He will be a name that Baltimore never forgets, regardless of how the remainder of his career pans out.

Is the next dominant kick returner in house or yet to be acquired? We will have to wait to see.

Next: TBW Predicts the Ravens First-Round Pick

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