Allen Park — After batting away the question throughout the week, Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell finally offered some insight on who will be handling return duties when the team opens the season against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
According to Caldwell, Dwayne Washington is expected to return kickoffs, while both Golden Tate and rookie cornerback Jamal Agnew will split punt responsibility.
During the preseason, Washington brought back three kickoffs, averaging 17.7 yards. He only returned two last season, as a rookie, but had a 96-yard touchdown during the preseason.
As a senior at the University of San Diego, Agnew was a successful punt returner, averaging 12.7 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown. During the team’s public scrimmage at Ford Field last month, he excited the crowd with a long touchdown return, but was in the quiet preseason, averaging 5.3 yards on four attempts.
“He’s shown that he can track the ball,” Caldwell said. “But, he also, once gets the ball in his hands, he’s also got quickness and speed to add to it. He can make the guy miss. That’s what you have to do, make one or two guys miss.
Tate hasn’t worked as a return man since the 2015 season, when he returned 20 punts his first season in Detroit. For his career, he’s averaged a respectable 10.6 yards.
“He’s always eager,” Caldwell said. “He’s one of those guys that you love to have around because he wants the ball, whatever way you can get it to him, he wants it.”