Trindon Holliday is in the NFL because of his ability to return kicks, but the Broncos special teams ace feels like he’s underworked.
Moving kickoffs to the 35-yard line before the 2011 season has led to a dramatic rise in the number of touchbacks around the league, leaving Holliday to admit that he wants to take kicks out from deep in the end zone because it “might be the only one you get all day.”
“You feel like it’s time for you to spark your team and you get so anxious and you see the ball go over your head again and again and you get frustrated,” Holliday said, via the Denver Post.
He’s probably not the only frustrated kickoff returner. Nearly half the kickoffs in the league this season, 49.4 percent in all, have been touchbacks and the current pace would end the season with the fewest kickoff returns since the league expanded to 32 teams in 2002.
The Panthers have been the team’s most successful team when it comes to kicking off as 75.7 percent of their kicks have resulted in touchbacks and it’s certainly helped their defense defend long fields so often this season. Three of the next four teams on the list are also likely on their way to the playoffs, so the benefit is being felt around the league.
Teams that return kicks also do well as the top six teams in kick return average (there’s a tie for fifth between the Lions and Bengals) are still alive in the playoff race, which suggests that having a player like Holliday to make the most of the few opportunities pays off well.