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The Skinny on Packers Practice Squad Signee Reggie Dunn

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The Skinny on Packers Practice Squad Signee Reggie Dunn

With news that the Green Bay Packers had signed Reggie Dunn to their practice squad, the time is appropriate to re-visit our Cheesehead TV 2013 Pro Football Draft Preview guide.

In March, I had ranked Dunn as the No. 2 return specialist in this year's draft class, and despite being called a wide receiver, Dunn is first and foremost a kick returner.

Possessing elite speed some have reported as being in the 4.2 range, Dunn most definitely had eye-popping numbers during his college days at Utah, averaging an almost unfathomable 51.3 yards on kick returns as a senior, returning four of them for touchdowns.

Upon closer inspection, however, Dunn only had 10 kick returns the entire season. He set an NCAA record with two 100-plus yard kick returns in a single game against Cal, and after that point, teams started to kick away from him.

In fact, Dunn also holds the NCAA record with most 100-plus yard kick returns in a season (four) and in a career (five).

What's interesting and concerning all at the same time is that Dunn was a kick returner but not a punt returner at Utah.

In a general sense, catching a punt is much harder than fielding a kickoff for reasons such as trajectory, hang time, the spiral of a punt and possibly having defenders in your face.

If Utah didn't trust Dunn to return punts, it raises a red flag that he'll be able to do so at the NFL level with the Packers.

Perhaps easing concerns is that Dunn was afforded an opportunity to return punts with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the preseason, running back seven for an average of 9.9 yards with three fair catches.

He also had two kick returns for 73 yards, an average of 36.5 yards per attempt.

Dunn's experience as a receiver is, likewise, minimal. In three years at Utah, Dunn caught a total of 31 passes for 355 yards and one touchdown. He also had 38 carries for 334 yards and two touchdowns.

Whether Dunn is being seriously considered to handle return duties in the aftermath of the release of Jeremy Ross remains to be seen.

For the moment being, the Packers can most certainly rely on Randall Cobb on special teams, but Mike McCarthy has already said he would prefer to relieve Cobb of those responsibilities.

Other candidates on the roster include running back Johnathan Franklin on kick returns and cornerback Micah Hyde on punt returns.

By signing Dunn to the practice squad, however, the Packers are essentially afforded a risk-free audition from Dunn to see whether he has what it takes.

But if they were truly interested in elevating him to the 53-man roster, the Packers would have to release a player or place someone on injured reserve in order to make room for Dunn.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

RC Packer Fan's picture

My guess is they keep him on the practice squad for 3-4 games and if they like him, they will elevate him. By then there will probably be someone that will be put on IR or IR designated to return.
I can see it being like a Dujuan Harris or Jeremy Ross last year...

I admit his speed intrigues me and his numbers as a KR are really good. His PR yards for the Steelers this preseason are pretty good too.

I don't want to get my hopes up to high, but he sounds like he could possibly be a really good find.

Evan's picture

Yeah...I can't see them going with only 4 WRs for very long. I think he'll be promoted once either a) all the RBs are healthy and Hill is cut or b) one of the RBs goes on IR.

RC Packer Fan's picture

I agree..

Although, I don't think they elevate him to be a WR. I think he will be purely a return specialist. I think if they decide to bring someone up for WR help they will bring up Johnson.

I agree though that Hill will be likely cut unless he proves himself somehow, or if Starks (for example) were to go on IR.

Evan's picture

Primarily a return specialist, sure, but he could also serve as the #5 WR.

THEMichaelRose's picture

I watched one of the Youtube videos of his touchdowns. And I wasn't that impressed. He seemed to cruise and float around, which isn't terrible obviously because it worked. But his blocking looked perfect, and the pursuit looked poor. He really just took his time and waited for holes. Great if it works, but honestly I just want someone that if he's not going to take a knee, he'll sprint out to the 25 and hold onto the ball.

His success with Pittsburgh is encouraging though.

Stroh's picture

Dunn is a tryout kinda guy. They'll have him on the PS for 3-4 weeks while they figure out how well he handles the ball and if he makes good decisions. Honestly I hope he proves capable, but I'm not holding out hope. He has a pretty limited background and guys that make great returners in the NFL usually have a lot of experience handling the ball in college or were return men throughout their college careers.

I'll say hopeful but unlikely he'll be the answer. Besides his inexperience he's also very slight. Not built like Cobb or Hester who are both well over 190 and have strong compact builds. Count me skeptical at best.

Jamie's picture

Considering there are small/smaller successful returners throughout the league, I don't think size is necessarily an issue. Could be, also could not be.

Jamie's picture

KR is where we need help, and this guy has the tools. He has a noticeable extra gear, with patience and the ability to cut as well.

I'm less concerned about PR. I think we have a couple of guys that can adequately handle those...some better than others.

Nerd's Phone's picture

"...after that point, teams started kicking away from him." LOL

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