Can Louis Rankin Start Returning Kicks?

greg pitschSenior Analyst IAugust 20, 2008

In last week's matchup against the Tennessee Titans, the Oakland Raiders' punt returner, Johnnie Lee Higgins, made a huge mistake. In case you missed it, he fielded a ball inside his own 10-yard line, then started off running backwards. He then lost the football, only to have it recovered by the Titans in the end zone.

This particular event, paired with a couple that happened last season, have the Raider Nation wondering what would happen if we had a healthy Tyvon Branch back there? What if Darren wanted to return punts? Can Todd Watkins field the end-over-end kicks?
While pondering through all of this, I believe I found the solution...Louis Rankin.
He is our undrafted RB that came out of the University of Washington, where he would return kicks, so he has the vision to do it. In all of the times I watched him at both UW and the local Lincoln High School games, never have I seen him go backwards or try to field a ball in the presence of his own goal line.
This could be a great solution for a player that is fighting to make the roster. I would even go as far to say he would thrive at an opportunity to return punts. He plays football, meaning, he is willing to play anywhere on the field, as long as he gets to play.
When being interviewed by Bob Highfill of the Stockton Record a while back, he was asked why NFL scouts should look at him. "I can break the long run, I can make plays, I can catch the ball out of the backfield, I can block for the quarterback, and return kicks," Rankin said. "I bring a lot of things to the table. More than a lot of guys."
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