Two weeks after falling out of favor in the running back rotation in favor of Dimitri Nance, James Starks could be in line to rejoin the ranks on the 45-man active roster as the kick return specialist.
Because of a strange pain in his knee that has kept him from practicing this week, it appears as if Sam Shields won't be an option on kick returns on Sunday.
"Shields is expecting to turn the job over to someone else," writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It's possible that it might have happened anyway after some recent struggles, but the knee injury almost assures it will be the case."
Shields has held the job for much of the past month-plus, but he hasn't done anything noteworthy averaging 21.5 yards on 21 attempts.
The rookie cornerback indicated Pat Lee could regain his job returning kickoffs, a duty he held briefly earlier in the season, but Starks remains an option as well.
Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said before the season even started that he'd prefer a running back hold the job, although that never materialized.
Now they have the option of turning to Starks, who's been getting practice time as a returner.
"If we can get James up, I'm sure he'll be a factor there, too. He's a pretty good runner with the ball," Slocum told Lori Nickel of the Journal Sentinel in late November. "He's been running our show team kickoff returns since he's been back and he's done a good job with it."
Now it's a matter of whether they'll have room to activate Starks, who's been inactive the past two weeks. Fullback Korey Hall has already been declared out of this week's game, which could open a roster spot for someone else in the offensive backfield and on special teams.
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