The Ravens were spoiled by the services of Jacoby Jones fielding punts and returning kicks for three seasons, until he was released this offseason. Now, for the first time in a while, the returner position is up for grabs, and has remained one of the few mystery spots on the Ravens roster going into camp. So far, no one has stood out to grab the job. Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg has been very vague as to who he thinks will take the job, saying "We will make a decision based on how they do in preseason, there’s nothing like game reps – handling a crowd, handling a game situation is really important. So, we’ll make the decision based on who is best in preseason." While Rosburg hasn't said much, we do know there are a few favorites.
- Michael Campanaro - An early favorite to take the job. However, he suffered a quadriceps tear at OTAs. He will be able to return for training camp. In his rookie year, Campanaro caught roughly 20 punts per practice and picked up a lot of valuable tips from Jacoby Jones. Campanaro said "I definitely think I can help the team out in the return game, definitely on punt returns, the coaching staff trusts me back there from a year of catching punts and I got some game experience. Anytime you can earn the coaches' trust, that's huge." It remains to be seen if his quad injury will affect his play.
- DeAndre Carter - My favorite from the start, it just makes the most sense to have him return kicks and punts. I even wrote my very first piece on him. Everyone from me, to Steve Smith has had praise for him. Smith said "I just love his attitude. I see a young Randall Cobb in him, but I think he can play inside or outside. I'm excited to watch him play". Me too Steve. Carter has also received some limited punt and kick return experience in college as well.
- Steve Smith, Sr. - A surprise candidate for sure, Rosburg wasn't kidding when he said "Everybody is getting reps." However, despite his age, it could make some sense, as early on his career, Smith was a great returner for the Panthers. He posted 1,431 kick return yards in his rookie year, and six total kick/punt return touchdowns in his career. That was a long time ago though, and he hasn't fielded a significant number of returns since 2005. Rosburg mentioned that having a starter like Smith field kicks wasn't ideal, but could be necessary.
- Lardarius Webb - Another unexpected veteran candidate. Webb isn't a stranger to special teams however, as he fielded punts and kicks from 2009 to 2011. I think Webb is an even worse fit for the job than Smith, as he is very injury prone. As seen last year, secondary depth is very important, and I don't want to see Webb out there fielding kicks, and risking injury.
- Asa Jackson - Jackson actually has some good experience returning the ball, as he did twice in the preseason for touchdowns, although one was called back. Watch both here, and here. Jackson also has an injury history too, as he tore his PCL last season. Jackson could be the prime candidate to take the job, assuming he can recreate what he did during the preseason.