The Lions’ first-string offense has two talented and accomplished return men in wide receiver Golden Tate and running back Reggie Bush, but neither of them is likely to be called upon to do so this season.
Tate has said he’s happy to play special teams if the coaches ask him, while Bush has said he’d rather focus on just playing offense. From all indications, all of the kick returns will be handled by Jeremy Ross, who played well last year after the Lions signed him in the middle of the season.
“I want to do whatever I can to help this team,” Tate said, via the Detroit Free Press. “We have a really good punt returner now in Jeremy Ross, and I have a lot of confidence in him. So if they need me, I’ll be there. But as far as I’m concerned, he’s the punt returner. He’s a tremendous punt returner, too.”
Asked if he’s in the mix to return kicks, Bush told MLive.com, “As of right now, no. And hopefully, no. I’d like to think I graduated from returning kicks and punts.”
Tate was one of the best punt returners in the NFL last season with the Seahawks, but Ross turned the Lions’ special teams from a weakness into a strength when he arrived last season, and he says he’s ready to make an even bigger impact for a full season this year.
“I think we’re a great unit,” Ross said. “I think we’re going to go out there and we’re going to do damage to people out there. Our plan is to be one of the best special-teams unit — the best special-teams unit in the National Football League. And I think we can do that.”
If that’s the case, the Lions will be wise to let Tate and Bush focus on offense.