ALAMEDA – Josh Cribbs was terminated on Sunday after a lackluster preseason made him expendable.
Jacoby Ford did, too.
Ford was clearly a better, more explosive option to return kickoffs this season. The fourth-year pro needed just one rep to prove it.
Ford skated through coverage during a 62-yard kickoff return Friday versus Chicago that showed all the burst and speed that Cribbs doesn’t have anymore. Without intending to do so, Ford made Cribbs easy to cut.
Dennis Allen said Monday that Ford will be the primary guy returning kicks. When Ford’s healthy, few returners are better. He’s returned four kickoffs for a touchdown from 2010-11, before injuries became an issue.
“When you look at his career and what he’s done as a kick returner and what he did the other night,” Allen said, “obviously I think he can give us something in that area.”
Returning kicks is a risky, often violent endeavor. It puts oft-injured Ford in a role where injuries are common. Allen said he didn’t factor Ford’s injury history – it’s extensive, and cost him most of the last two seasons – into his decision.
“You can never look into the future and know exactly what’s going to happen.,” Allen said. “Obviously, you have concerns when guys have an injury history, but we can’t look at that and make all of our decisions based off that. We’ve got to pick the right 53 guys for this football team, and when he’s been out there, he’s done some good things that I think can help us.”
Ford thinks he can be an asset on special teams, and thanks Allen for the opportunity to return regularly.
“You have to love returning kicks and I certainly do,” Ford said. “It’s something that can give the team a spark and get fans on their feet. Field position is so key, especially with a kicker like (Sebastian Janikowski). It can really help us score points.”
Ford knows he’s only effective if he’s healthy. That’s why he sat through a portion of training camp with a hamstring injury, waiting patiently for it to fully heal. He believes the foot injuries that ruined past seasons are of no concern. Now he’s ready and physically able to contribute full time.
“I’m healthy,” Ford said, “And I’m really excited about this season.”