Special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum said rookie CB Micah Hyde was a little hesitant on his first two punt returns on Sunday in Baltimore, but after that he began exploding up the field.
With the multiple-week injury to WR Randall Cobb, Hyde was likely to become the Packers’ full-time punt returner anyway. But even without Cobb’s injury, Hyde may have locked down the job with three consecutive returns of 23, 20 and 16 yards in the late second and early third quarters.
“I thought we blocked them well on the three explosive gains, and I thought Micah was real decisive after he caught the ball,” Slocum said. “He got off the spot well and got vertical.”
Another rookie defensive back, S Chris Banjo, showed up once again on the coverage units with a couple of tackles of Baltimore’s dangerous kick returner, WR Jacoby Jones.
P Tim Masthay also had a key play, booming a punt from the back of the end zone when the Packers were snapping from their own 1-yard line. The punt traveled 52 yards and had to be fair caught.
The Ravens had one long punt return, for 38 yards by WR Tandon Doss, and the only other significant blemish for the special teams was the mistake by FB John Kuhn to try to pick up the blocked punt. After it had crossed the line of scrimmage, Kuhn’s failure to pick it up became a muff and the Ravens recovered, keeping possession.
Slocum said the Packers had seen the Ravens get a punt blocked against Denver back in Week 1, so the punt-return team stayed aggressive. LB Andy Mulumba nearly got a second block later in the game. The first one was by TE Ryan Taylor, and the ball caromed forward and over toward the Packers’ bench.
“Don’t grab it,” was Slocum’s thought as he saw Kuhn going after the ball practically right in front of him. “The ball crossed the line of scrimmage, and after a blocked kick crosses the line of scrimmage, it’s going to be our ball if we stay away from it, and that was a mistake.
“It’s something we covered and cover quite often. He knew it. He was trying to make a play and made a poor decision.
“If there were no one around, it was clear and there’s no traffic and a guy makes a play, you pat him on the back and remind him of the rule. But in that situation, it’s close enough to the line of scrimmage, it’s close enough to the scrum of the bodies, and we should have stayed away from it.”
Tags: john kuhn, micah hyde, randall cobb, Shawn Slocum
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