Detroit Lions Shake Up Special Teams; Which Free Agent Could Spark Return Game?

Derrick DennisContributor IOctober 9, 2009

Detroit Lions wide receiver Eddie Drummond fields a kick  during a game between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois on September 17, 2006.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Well, it seems as though Jim Schwartz has stayed true to his word that underperforming players won't be playing for the Lions for very long.

After a horrendous outing that ultimately cost them the game against the Chicago Bears, the Lions' special teams have been under fire. Schwartz has responded by awarding the kick return position to Derrick Williams.

Also, LB Darnell Bing was released to make room on the active roster for a preseason fan favorite for Lions fans, Zack Follett.

Of course, Williams and Follett both deserve the chance to prove themselves, because after all, that's why they drafted them. Follett could make a big impact on special teams, as could Williams. However, if Williams doesn't and drops the ball like he did during preseason, the Lions could still be in the market for a good returner.

On Detroit's practice squad sits rookie RB Tristan Davis. The often injured Auburn RB returned 55 kicks for 1,455 yards with a 26.5-yard average and scored two touchdowns during his college days.

All Lions fans remember Eddie Drummond; he was one of the best returners in the league and the best Lions fan had seen since the likes of Mel Gray and Desmond Howard. That is until injuries slowed him down. Eddie is a free agent now and may still have some good years left in him.

For his career thus far Drummond has returned 250 kicks for 5,811 yards with an average of 23.2 yards and two TDs. He has also returned 140 punts for 1,280 with a 9.1-yard average and four TDs.

Schwartz has seen what free agent CB Adam "Pacman" Jones can do as a CB and as a returner. He does come with a reputation for making it rain...bullets..."allegedly."

I don't see a huge problem if Schwartz would want to take a look at him as long as the guy has the words "ZERO TOLERANCE" plastered all over his contract. He could probably play nickel corner or even start for us, but that's not why he is on this list.

As a returner Jones has returned 70 kick returns for 1,803 yards with a 25.8-yard average and no TDs. He has also returned 84 punts for 807 yards with a 9.6-yard average and four TDs.

Jerome Mathis has also had some legal problems and was signed to a CFL team the last I heard, but playing for an NFL team usually trumps playing for a CFL team. As a return man Mathis has returned 72 kicks for 2,054 yards with a 28.5-yard average and three TDs. Mathis has only fielded 12 punts for 68 yards with a 5.7-yard average and no TDs.

Last but not least is the free agent WR and kick return specialist who at one time was just as good if not better than the Bears' Devin Hester. Of course, I'm talking about Dante Hall. Hall may still have something left; he may not, but there is nothing wrong with looking, especially if he can recapture even a fraction of his past return heroics.

For his career Hall has returned 426 kicks for 10,136 yards with a 23.8-yard average and six TDs. As a punt returner Hall has returned 216 punts for 2,261 yards with a 10.5-yardaverage and six TDs. For those keeping track that is an amazing 12 TDs combined!

I'm sure there are more good return men out there, but these were the ones that stood out in my mind. It couldn't hurt just to see what, if anything, these guys have left in the tank.