When wide receiver and kickoff return specialist Jacoby Ford was injured in the preseason and lost for the season, the Oakland Raiders return game took a huge blow. Ford had four kickoff return touchdowns in two seasons. His absence left a void in the return game that lingered the entire season.
Defensive back Coye Francies took over the kickoff return duties in 2012, and his performance was average. He returned 20 kickoffs for an average of 23.8 yards per return and a long of 32. Mike Goodson returned 16 kickoffs averaging 22.4 with a long of 51. That was the longest return of the year for the Raiders. Those were the two main kickoff returners last season and both were unable to make any positive game changing plays.
The punt return responsibilities were handled by wide receiver Denarius Moore and Phillip Adams. Both are essential members of the starting offense and defense. Adams became the starting cornerback late in the season, but was injured in consecutive games. Moore led the receiving corps in touchdowns with seven. Neither is the ideal candidate to return punts because of their importance in other areas. Adams ended the season with 25 returns for an average of 5.6 yards per return and a long of 47. Moore returned nine punts for an average of 3.6 yards and a long of 19.
The Raiders return game suffered from several muffs that cost the team field position and turnovers. It is a luxury to get scoring from special teams, but the Raiders lacked consistency and steady production in that area. With Ford scheduled to be back in 2013, the return game should receive a boost. The Raiders may also look later in the draft to find a prospect that has return skills along with positional potential.
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