Since his start as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' head coach, Lovie Smith has emphasized special teams play. In fact, it's something he emphasized with the Chicago Bears, too. It's a little curious, then, that the Bucs have done absolutely nothing to address either kick or punt returns this offseason -- positions the Bucs have been struggling to find production from ever since they cut Micheal Spurlock.
It seems the Bucs are hoping to get some punt return production out of sixth-round pick Robert Herron. The Wyoming receiver has been fielding punts for the past two days in rookie mini-camp, but it's been a while since he's done that. Asked about the last the last time he returned punts, Herron said “High school I would say. None at all [in college], but over this offseason, I’ve just been practicing on it.”
That inexperience led to a few too many muffed punts on Friday, but Lovie Smith said Herron and the other punt returners improved on Saturday. Per the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs also looked at undrafted receiver Solomon Patton and third-round pick Charles Sims as potential returners, too.
Special teams contributions are often the key to making a roster for late-round draft picks and undrafted free agents, and that will be as true for Herron as it is for the try-outs in rookie minicamp. Being a sixth-round pick is no guarantee for a roster spot, after all.
Given all that activity and Eric Page's lackluster production last year, the second-year receiver may find himself out of a job before the week is over -- or at least before the season starts, unless he can really improve his play.