In need of help in the return game, the Oakland Raiders turned their attention to one of the best in the NFL. The team and wide receiver Josh Cribbs agreed to a deal today. Cribbs will have the most value as a punt and kickoff return man.
“I am blessed to have the opportunity to prove myself yet again,” Cribbs tweeted today. “Fresh start, New team, New chip on my shoulder!!!! Love u Cleveland but now it's #catalinawinemixer 2013 RaiderNation.”
Last season, the Raiders received very little production from their return game. When Jacoby Ford went down in the third game of the preseason, the team's return game suffered a huge blow. Mike Goodson and Coye Francies stepped up to take over the kickoff return duties, but failed to make much of an impact. Goodson averaged 22.4 yards per return with a long of 51 yards while Francies averaged 23.8 with a long of 32 yards. Cribbs has returned 387 kickoffs in his career and averages 25.9 to go along with eight touchdown returns.
As far as the punt return game is concerned, it was the same story for the Raiders. They were unable to get any spark or game changing plays from either of their returners. Phillip Adams was the primary handler of punts with 25 returns for an average of 5.6 yards and a long of 47. Denarius Moore chipped in nine returns for an average of 3.6 yards and a long of 19. Cribbs averages 11 yards per return for his career and has returned three for touchdowns.
The impact Cribbs has the potential to provide to the stagnant Raiders' return game is massive. Although the NFL has moved the kickoff forward five yards which limits the opportunities for return men, Cribbs is a factor. He and Jacoby Ford give the Raiders two explosive playmakers with the chance to change the game in one touch. The Raiders have given no indication that the signing of Cribbs would impact Ford's standing with the team. Both are still trying to develop into serviceable wide receivers, but provide instant offense as returners. Cribbs also has some versatility on offense to contribute in a variety of ways.
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