Despite promoting running back Michael Hill to the active roster this week, the Green Bay Packers have apparently been kicking the tires on a number of veteran kick returners to help fill the major void on their special teams. As you know, Jeremy Ross was released last week after yet another costly fumble in the Bengals game, and the roles in the return game are unclear at the moment.
Here's the report from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Bob McGinn:
Vet returners Preston Parker (WR), William Powell (RB) and Deji Karim (RB), plus ex-#Hawkeyes QB James Vandenberg, tried out w/Packers Mon.— Bob McGinn (@BobMcGinn) October 2, 2013
Preston Parker played parts of the last three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, seeing action in a total of 27 games. He has averaged just over 9 yards on 23 punt returns (all in 2011) and just over 20 yards on 30 kick returns. He also added over 500 receiving yards and three scores in 2011.
Powell was an Arizona Cardinal last season, and was part of the team's running back rotation. He ran 59 times for 216 yards (3.7 average) and caught 19 passes for 132 yards. His kick returning was reasonably solid, though, averaging 24.1 yards on 21 kickoff returns.
Deji Karim has the best kick returning numbers of the three, posting a 25.9-yard average over the last three years with the Jaguars and Colts. Last season in Indy, he even took one return back 101 yards for a score, and in his rookie year in 2010, he was 9th in the league in total kick return yardage.
Vandenberg is looking to make an NFL team for the first time in his first year out of Iowa. He was signed by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent, but was cut before the end of training camp. It seems unlikely that he would be a better option than current practice squad QB Scott Tolzien, however.
No transactions have been announced. It seems likely that the Packers will go into the Lions game with the roster as it is currently constructed, since these workouts took place on Monday and Hill was promoted from the practice squad later that day. However, the fact that the team is looking at other return options is something to keep in mind moving forward. One name is conspicuously absent from this list, however: former Browns return man Josh Cribbs.
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