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Bucs giving Mike Williams a look at punt returner

Mike Williams AP

The Buccaneers just gave wide receiver Mike Williams a contract extension last week and they may be taking the point of view that an increased salary goes with increased job responsibilities.

Williams is working as a punt returner (and maybe a juggler, judging by the picture at right) during training camp, a role that is a completely new one for him after a career spent exclusively as a receiver. It’s something the team has talked about doing in the past, but they’ve never put it into effect the way they have this summer. It’s also something that Williams has been enjoying because it gives him extra chances with the ball in his hands.

“Yeah, I get the ball in my hands. It’s almost like a 65 or 70 percent chance that I’m going to get the ball on that play,” Williams said, via JoeBucsFan.com. “So I like that. [Coaches] have been telling me I’ve been catching the punts real good. I didn’t do it in college or high school. I guess they see something in me that they want to bring out.”

It’s a bit odd to give a player $15 million in guaranteed money and then ask them to do something completely new that could wind up cutting into his ability to thrive at the position you thought he played well enough to get that money in the first place, but there’s not much risk in seeing how Williams might have a knack for the role that’s gone unnoticed to this point in his career. If he does, that’s a bonus although it would always be of secondary importance to his role on offense.

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11 Responses to “Bucs giving Mike Williams a look at punt returner”
  1. glazerh8er says: Jul 29, 2013 11:21 AM

    I’m never comfortable with the valuable wideouts or RB’s taking punts and kicks. Leave it to a specialist who we can afford having injury. Special teams touchdowns are overrated anyhow if the returner is also fumble prone. I’ll take a few yards and no fumble every time.

  2. bucrightoff says: Jul 29, 2013 11:26 AM

    Fielding 3 punts at a time like the pic shows is very impressive.

  3. briandorry55 says: Jul 29, 2013 11:38 AM

    After he caught the third punt in the picture…he put one of them between his legs and was able to maneuver into position to catch a 4th punt but the one between his legs fell out as he snatched the 4th ball. It was pretty impressive. Nobody else in the competition was able to catch 3.

  4. your6ringsaremeaninglessnow says: Jul 29, 2013 11:53 AM

    “…but there’s not much risk in seeing how Williams might have a knack for the role that’s gone unnoticed to this point in his career.”

    Two words…Jason Sehorn

  5. 6ball says: Jul 29, 2013 12:01 PM

    .

    Versatility equals depth. Returning punts is a dangerous occupation. You need several players who have experience in fielding a punt successfully. Often times that is just a fair catch.

    .

  6. @Cereal_22 says: Jul 29, 2013 12:05 PM

    Dumb move

  7. kylewild says: Jul 29, 2013 12:27 PM

    Although Mike is a great after-the-catch WR with deceptive speed and knack for breaking tackles, that in no way means he could be successful as a PR. He lacks overall speed and agility to make an explosive play while starting from a completely immobile position and there’s no reason to risk him getting injured.

  8. onebucplace says: Jul 29, 2013 5:53 PM

    Calm down people — Warren Sapp was the team’s backup punter and took reps doing it. While I doubt he’ll actually return punts they’ll give him a look and at least know if they can use him as a backup at the position — and who knows, maybe he’s a natural and they use him like the Vikings did Harvin. Considering this is the same coaching staff that puts Forrest Gump leg braces on Freeman as a precaution, I’m going to assume they’re about player safety. OK I’m just kidding on that last part, they put the braces on Freeman in an effort to make sure he stayed in the pocket and didn’t use his natural athletic ability because, you know, Schiano knows best.

  9. onebucplace says: Jul 29, 2013 5:56 PM

    kylewild says:
    Jul 29, 2013 12:27 PM
    Although Mike is a great after-the-catch WR with deceptive speed and knack for breaking tackles, that in no way means he could be successful as a PR. He lacks overall speed and agility to make an explosive play while starting from a completely immobile position and there’s no reason to risk him getting injured.

    —————

    Uh… see Karl Williams, an ultra productive Bucs punt returner, didn’t have great speed or suddeness but had great vision. Vision is the most important quality needed for a running back (Emmitt Smith) and a kick returner. Obviously great speed helps, but is secondary.

  10. mjmistretta says: Jul 29, 2013 8:53 PM

    He is good with the ball in his hands in the open field and for everyone who thinks he is slow should do their home work. He ran 4.4.7 at his pro day

  11. cheapglazers says: Jul 31, 2013 9:11 AM

    This just in: Mike Williams asked to clean toilets, redesign their website and work the front desk as part of his new contract.

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