Starks Could Be Option On Kick Returns

Rookie James Starks could be a possibility to replace Sam Shields on kick returns this Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

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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Comments (10)

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ZeroTolerance's picture

December 30, 2010 at 01:25 pm

I'd like to say I'm all for it, as Shields does not seen to have any skill returning kicks. But in game 16, in a must win situation?

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jdondlinger's picture

December 30, 2010 at 01:54 pm

James Starks FTW!

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Wiscokid's picture

December 30, 2010 at 02:03 pm

Agreed. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win a tight game. This no time for experimenting

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Nerd's laptop's picture

December 30, 2010 at 03:12 pm

That's what happened last time.

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packerwest's picture

December 30, 2010 at 02:17 pm

Jordy Nelson again. He had some great returns early in the season before his fumbles against Detroit cost him that job. As you could see last week he can flat out fly in the open field and i believe should have been given the job back a couple of weeks ago. Shields is just too indecisive on where to go and drops the kickoff a lot. Nelson at least runs staight into the coverage and almost broke a couple early on.

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ZeroTolerance's picture

December 30, 2010 at 03:08 pm

I'd go with Jordy before Starks. But I guess I have to defer to the coaching staff (sigh).

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FITZCORE1252's picture

December 30, 2010 at 03:26 pm

Time for a change, Sam has been pedestrian at best. But this is the one ST's unit that you can't make mistakes against, they are great there, I'll give 'em that. As long as he hangs on to the ball, he can't be any worse than Shields.

GBP 4 LIFE

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NoWayJose's picture

December 30, 2010 at 03:32 pm

I think I will just close my eyes during all special teams plays on Sunday and try to imagine a happy place...

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IdiotFan's picture

December 30, 2010 at 07:08 pm

That's every Sunday for me...

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Ruppert's picture

December 31, 2010 at 10:28 am

I don't mind Shields on KRs. He hasn't fumbled all year and he's fast. He should have had a TD against Atlanta, but missed it by one cut. Right now, all I care about is holding on to the ball. So I'm not thrilled about Jordy, to be honest. Get better, Sammy!

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