ALAMEDA -- The Raiders are testing several return options this offseason in search of dynamic threats in the kicking game. Contenders come from all over the positional map, with a few young players trying to secure a roster spot with a return role.
Special teams coordinator Brad Seely made it clear Wednesday incumbents currently have the upper hand.
That would be Taiwan Jones on kickoffs and TJ Carrie on punts.
“I don’t think there’s any leader, but you have to start with TJ Carrie and Taiwan,” Seely said. “They did a really good job for us last year. As we tell the new guys, they have to beat somebody out.”
There is competition this year, as the Raiders continue their search for a upgrades. Joe Hansley, DeAndre Washington and Jaydon Mickens are young players getting return reps this spring.
Washington has limited experience as a return man. Mickens is a slot receiver with good hands and shiftiness, which prompted the Raiders to experiment with a green player.
Hansley was brought in to receive and return, and has been impressive in both spots.
“Joe Hansley proved in college that he’s a good returner,” Seely said. “We evaluated him as a return man, and we value him as a punt returner. We thought he was very good, and we’re happy to have him.”
Carrie wasn’t always used returning punts last year given his defensive workload, but averaged 6.2 yards per return with one over 20 yards. He has averaged 7.0 yards per return over two season While the Raiders struggled to find consistency after Taiwan Jones was hampered with a knee injury. He was second in the AFC with 26.7 yards per kickoff return and a 70-yard long, with enough quality to feel confident in No. 22 returning kicks.
“We had a lot of different guys last year with Taiwan’s injuries,” Seely said. “We would like to have had Taiwan back there all the time. He did a nice job for us and we were happy with his production.
“Somebody is going to have to do well to beat Taiwan out. He’s a good player.”