The Seahawks are leaving some mystery about who will handle kick returns with Tyler Lockett now out for the season.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was more than happy to leave officially unanswered one of the obvious questions that arose out of the season-ending injury last week to Tyler Lockett — who now returns punts?
The kickoff return situation seems pretty clear, with Paul Richardson — who handled the job once Lockett went out Saturday — expected to now take it over full time.
Richardson finished the 2014 season as the team’s primary kickoff returner following the trade of Percy Harvin and has four returns this year for an average of 23.8 per attempt (Lockett handled almost every other kickoff return the last two seasons and had 23 for 606 yards this year before breaking a tibia and fibula against the Cardinals).
“If they need me back there I’m open to it,’’ Richardson said this week. “I did it my rookie year when Percy left so I’m comfortable back there. Just got to run fast, be confident and just trust that guys are going to make their blocks. They have been playing their tails off on the special teams units so if they need me back there I’ll for sure be back there.’’
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The punt return situation, though, seems a bit more mysterious.
Cornerback Richard Sherman has been the official backup all season and is listed as the starter on the team’s depth chart this week. He went back for one punt in the second half against the Cardinals after Lockett was injured, but didn’t get a chance at a return.
But Sherman has little game experience overall, with just three official returns in his career (one going for 64 yards on a trick play against the Bears in 2015) and fair catches on his only two official attempts this season (the only two attempts this year not handled by Lockett).
Carroll also acknowledged Friday that Sherman’s value and use as a cornerback will come into play in any decisions made about the return job, with the team potentially reluctant to want him to handle every single attempt.
Otherwise, though, Carroll offered little insight into what the team will do.
“We could hang out our wash but we don’t need to,’’ Carroll said wryly.
While Sherman is a candidate to handle the punt return job — and he has often stated he’d like the chance to do it — there are other possibilities, including former Skyline and UW star Kasen Williams and recently-acquired J.D. McKissic, who was claimed off waivers from Atlanta prior to the Arizona game.
Asked about the punt return situation this week, special teams coach Brian Schneider mentioned Williams, saying “he does a great job catching it.’’
But like Carroll, Schneider didn’t commit to who might handle the job saying “we’ve got some new guys who can do it, some old guys who can do it. We’ll just see how it works out.’’
Williams was a regular punt returner at Washington as a freshman and junior, with 20 returns for 153 yards, and said this week he’d love a chance to do it for the Seahawks.
But McKissic is also intriguing.
An undrafted rookie free agent, McKissic regularly handled kickoff and punt returns at Arkansas State, where he finished with 23 punt returns for 130 yards. He also did some kickoff and punt returning for the Falcons in the pre-season, including returning one kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown.
“He has a really special quickness,’’ Carroll said last week of McKissic, who was primarily a receiver in college but is listed by the Seahawks as a running back.
Lots of options, if not yet many clear answers.