Earlier this offseason, Joshua Cribbs stated that he was going to return pretty much every kick that did not leave the back of the end zone on kickoffs. Cribbs didn't want anyone else to make the decision for him, probably in reference to teammates on other teams who often turn around and caution the returner not to come out of the end zone.
Head coach Pat Shurmur discussed the return game issue on Wednesday though, and it's tough to tell if he'd like Cribbs to go for it with every opportunity he receives or not. "Yeah, we’ll have that conversation with him," stated Shurmur in regards to whether there will be a designated cutoff for him."
Shurmur had a few other things to say about kickoffs and Cribbs:
(On how long it will take for Joshua Cribbs to get used to the rest of the guys on the return team since he hasn’t been out there with them)- "Well he hasn’t done it games. He’s fielded a heck of a lot of punts in practice and I think that’s the important part and he’s worked the returns full speed. He’s got a lot of experience returning kicks and from that stand point, I don’t anticipate there’ll be any drop off in his return game."
(On how many new guys there are on the kickoff return team compared to last year)- "They’re all new for me. Every year your primary backup role players are on special teams. There’s a chance we could have six rookies playing a major role so there’s a lot of newness and that would kind of carry over into special teams as well."
(On if there could be 109 yard returns)- "You know, it’s like a homerun hitter, are you going to make him take on a 3-0 count? I don’t know. He’s a competitor, he’s a play maker and the one thing about Josh that I appreciate is when he gets in the ball games, he loves to play the game. He doesn’t mind it thick which means he doesn’t mind blocking, he doesn’t mind catching the ball in the middle of the field. It takes a great amount of courage to return those kicks. It would be like catching the ball up here and running through you folks (joking). There’s a lot going on. I’ve got a lot of respect for him for those reasons."
(On getting the ball in Cribbs’ hands more often on offense because of his ability to make plays)- "Yeah, we’re going to play him at receiver. He’s going to lineup and play receiver quite a bit and then he’s going to return punts and he’s going to return kicks. We’re going to do what we can to try and get him the football. I’m anticipating that every kick won’t be a touchback so he’ll get his shots."
We'll probably find out what the plan is this Sunday. I expect Cribbs to return every kick that comes his way.