The Green Bay Packers’ quest for productivity on kick and punt returns continues, despite one of the better games from that area of the team this year on Sunday. Against the New York Giants, return man Tremon Smith averaged 24 yards per kickoff return on three attempts and had a punt return for three yards — the team’s longest all year. However, Smith fumbled on that punt return, and although the football went out of bounds, it could have been a disastrous play.
Perhaps for that reason, the Packers are bringing in a new face on returns. On Monday, the team claimed running back and return specialist Tyler Ervin on waivers, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Shortly thereafter, the Packers announced that they have released Smith, who will be subject to waivers as well.
The Jacksonville Jaguars released Ervin on Saturday, waiving him after he participated in six games this season. Originally a fourth-round draft pick of the Houston Texans in 2016, Ervin was released midway through last season, then spent the 2019 offseason in Baltimore before being waived at the end of training camp and landing with the Jaguars. In three seasons with the Texans, Ervin played in 25 games, primarily as a punt returner, where he averaged 8.9 yards per return on 56 opportunities.
Among running backs, Ervin’s movement skills as measured at the 2016 Combine are excellent. He has excellent speed, clocked at 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash, as well as great explosion ability with a 39-inch vertical (91st percentile among running backs) and a 10-foot-10 broad jump (96th percentile). Ervin would later post a 3-cone drill time of 7.03 seconds at his Pro Day.
For Smith, this is the second time he has been waived off the Packers’ 53-man roster this season. He averaged 23.3 yards per kickoff return for Green Bay in 2019 and has a net of zero yards on four punt return attempts with the one fumble on Sunday.