One of the great mysteries of the 2022 Detroit Lions will finally be solved on the opening kickoff in Ford Field on Sunday. And not one second earlier.
Just who will be the Lions’ kick returner?
Ever since the team unexpectedly cut Godwin Igwebuike–last year’s primary return man–in the final roster cutdown, the kick return position has been unresolved. Head coach Dan Campbell has refused to divulge who will replace Igwebuike when asked about it.
Now special teams coach Dave Fipp has also turned tight-lipped. In his press conference prior to Thursday’s practice, Fipp coyly demurred on giving a straight answer.
“Yeah, so I would say we’ll find out. I’m not going to give that away obviously, but we’ll find out on Sunday. And I will say I’m excited about it, we’ve had a handful of guys back there in the preseason, and I think all those guys have done a good job,” Fipp said.
When presented with the fact that RB Craig Reynolds is the only player on the 53-man roster who returned a kick this preseason, Fipp acknowledged No. 46 is an option. But he did little to clue in just how strong of an option Reynolds might be.
“Yeah, I feel totally comfortable with it. I would just put it like that,” Fipp said of Reynolds. “I would say it could be Craig (Reynolds), he’s obviously an option. There’s guys on the practice squad depending on who we bring up, which is a whole other conversation. But based off that, it could be one of those guys, so we’ll find out.”
Those other options include WR Kalif Raymond, who is penciled in as the primary punt returner but did not get a lot of run as a kick return option. Two players fit Fipp’s bill of practice squad guys: RB Justin Jackson and WR Tom Kennedy. Top receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown is theoretically an option as well, though it’s difficult to envision the Lions risking a return injury on such an integral piece of the offense.