The Art of Returning (Feature Post)

The art of returning punts and kicks in the NFL has long been a sought after skill, as in just one play it is possible to change the momentum and outcome of the game. This week in the NFL, there were 3 punts returned for a touchdown, 2 kicks brought back all the way, and a guard for the Patriots lumbered down to the 4 yard line after slowly running a punt back 60+ yards. Brad Smith of the Jets returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for his team, starting off the momentum as ol' Rex's Jets powered past the Steelers. The Philadelphia Eagles battled back from 21 down in the 4th quarter against division rival Giants thanks to the help of MVP Candidate Michael Vick. However, the game was set to go into overtime if it was not for a miraculous 65 punt return from the versatile Desean Jackson*, who fumbled the ball and then proceeded to zip past the Giants Special Teams basically untouched.

Editor's Note: The Cowboys chose Felix Jones and Mike Jenkins in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft, passing on Desean Jackson, who was rumored to be Dallas-bound. However, because of apparent character "issues," he slid ALL THE WAY to pick 49, where the Eagles gladly said, "thank you!"
In the past couple years the world has seen an obscene amount of punts and kicks returned for touchdowns, and many ask why it is becoming so common. Is it a lack of capable tackling, or badly formed kickoff teams, or rather is it the skill and dexterity of the men returning? Players are becoming stronger, faster, and more agile, as specialty men are often recruited to solely return punts. The best punt and kick returner in the game today is without doubt Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears. Monday night, Hester returned a punt for the Bears, making it his 14th career touchdown on punt or kick returns. Hester's legacy of punt returns also includes a 106 yard punt return against the giants a couple years back, when He acted like he was going to kneel in the end zone, and then took off down the entire length of the field. Setting the new NFL record with #14, Monday Night on ESPN, Hester continues to do what he has been doing for years by tempting teams to give him a chance to return, and then making them regret their decision. A great athlete, Hester played on offense, defense, and special teams when he attended the University of Miami. While a Hurricane, Hester returned six punts and kickoffs, and was named onto the "Walter Camp All-America Team" and "The Sporting News' All-America team."

How many returns Devin Hester ends up with in his career? No one knows. But what we do know is that NFL punt and kick returners like Devin Hester and Desean Jackson will continue to excite audiences with their incredible speed and agility.

-Sam Farmer, Contributing Poster for the Blog, "Day To Day Sports," thanks Sam!

Sam wrote the juice, but to provide a link just in case you
missed "Djax's" incredible game-winning punt return, Merry Vickmas...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rL0ZxJ9sejk&feature=player_embedded#!


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