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Cleveland Browns Training Camp 2018: Special Teams Preview (Return Game)

A look at the kick return, punt return, and coverage units on the Browns.

NFL: Cleveland Browns-OTA Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In Part 2 of our special teams training camp preview for the Cleveland Browns, we look at the return game positions and some options for the coverage units.

NFL: Cleveland Browns-OTA Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Kick Returner

In 2017, the Browns primarily featured two players on kickoff returns: Jabrill Peppers for the first half of the year, and Matthew Dayes for the second half. Here is how each of them performed:

  • Peppers: 14 returns, 318 yards (22.7 avg).
  • Dayes: 18 returns, 437 yards (24.3 avg).

Dayes was more productive than Peppers, breaking a couple of big returns. The two biggest contenders for the role this year figure to come down to Peppers and rookie WR Antonio Callaway. Callaway had few kick return attempts in college -- 6 total for an average of 29.3 yards per return, including one touchdown.

Other players who could see action as the kick returner are WR Jarvis Landry and WR Evan Berry. Landry returned kickoffs from 2014-2015, but hasn’t for the past two years. Berry was an explosive kick returner in college, returning 53 kickoffs for an average of 34.3 yards per return and 4 touchdowns over a 4-year span. Berry might have been a favorite for the positio; however, if that is all he is known for in the NFL, that might not cut it.

NFL: Cleveland Browns-Minicamp Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Punt Returner

The Browns’ primary punt returner in 2017 was Jabrill Peppers. He had 30 returns for 180 yards (a very low average of 6.0 yards per return). After him were WR Bryce Treggs (5 returns, 24 yards, 4.8 average) and RB Duke Johnson (3 returns, 17 yards, 5.7 average).

Peppers, WR Antonio Callaway, and WR Jarvis Landry should be the top contenders for the punt return spot. In college, Callaway had 55 punt returns for 653 yards, an average of 11.9 yards per return to go along with 2 touchdowns. Landry returned punts for the past four years in Miami, averaging 9.0 yards per return but only having 1 touchdown in his career. For those wondering, Evan Berry did not return punts in college.

Coverage Units

The top tacklers on special teams for the Browns last year were RB Matthew Dayes (8), FB Dan Vitale (7), and then a three-way tie with 5 tackles each for LB B.J. Bello, LB James Burgess, and WR Ricardo Louis.

The biggest addition to the coverage group this offseason is WR Jeff Janis. Even though he only had 4 special teams tackles last year, he is known as one of the better gunners in the NFL. This article here goes into as much statistical detail as I’ve ever seen from a site talking about a gunner. Additionally, if the Browns don’t mind using him there, rookie CB Denzel Ward would figure to be a great gunner as well.

LB Mychal Kendricks had 4 special teams tackles with the Eagles last year, but I expect Burgess and rookie LB Genard Avery to get plenty of looks on that unit. Tank Carder did not play all of last season and is no longer with the team, so the Browns need to figure out who their core special teams coverage player (ace) will be.


Who should be the Browns’ kick returner in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Jabrill Peppers
    (31 votes)
  • 56%
    Antonio Callaway
    (192 votes)
  • 17%
    Matthew Dayes
    (59 votes)
  • 0%
    Jarvis Landry
    (1 vote)
  • 17%
    Evan Berry
    (58 votes)
341 votes total Vote Now


Who should be the Browns’ punt returner in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Jabrill Peppers
    (61 votes)
  • 65%
    Antonio Callaway
    (191 votes)
  • 5%
    Jarvis Landry
    (17 votes)
  • 7%
    Duke Johnson
    (22 votes)
291 votes total Vote Now