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View Full Version : Blackmon finally overcomes Punt Return "Phobia"



hughest4
08-13-2008, 03:34 PM
Green Bay - Will Blackmon owns every kick return record there is at Boston College, so it seems a little bizarre that he would have to overcome his punt-return phobia to become the Green Bay Packers' main man for the job this season.

Blackmon reached around his locker for his backpack to explain. His school had just sent him a media guide and sure enough, there it is: Most returns overall, 110; most return yardage overall, 2,700; most return yardage in a season, 922 — Will Blackmon.

But those were all kickoff returns, where there’s a good bit of distance between Blackmon and the opposing line cruising toward him. That comfort zone allowed the special teams to block for him.

But punt returns are the bungee jumps of football. They are not for the faint of heart.

“It’s funny. All my life I had a big punt-return phobia,” Blackmon said. “I did not want to do it. I couldn’t do it. I was terrified. Terrified. Why? I mean, they’re coming down to kill you.

“And then Coach said, ‘Get out there.’ ”

In 2004, Blackmon and the Eagles upset No. 13 West Virginia. Whether by fear or by talent or some stomach-flipping combination of the two, Blackmon ripped off a 71-yard touchdown on a punt return, the longest in school history, to put an exclamation point on Boston College’s thrilling 36-17 victory.

Blackmon’s kickoff-return average remained a healthy 27.2 yards in college but he never really felt comfortable fielding punts.

“It wasn’t until I got here in Green Bay that I got over that phobia,” Blackmon said. “Devin Hester, he and I have the same agent. We were talking and the one thing we both figured out was: Expect to get hit. You know? If you catch it, just expect to get hit and if you don’t, you’re cool.”

With veteran cornerback Charles Woodson relieved of his 2007 punt-return duties, Green Bay gave two of its three top punt-return men a look against Cincinnati on Monday in the Packers’ first exhibition game. Blackmon had two returns for 9 yards. Rookie wide receiver Jordy Nelson added four returns for 31 yards.

“We’ve got some depth in the return area for the first time,” special teams coordinator Mike Stock said.

So far the punt-return job looks to be Blackmon’s, “and hopefully he can remain healthy,” said Stock, but Tramon Williams could fit in that role with Nelson as well.

“It’s mine,” Blackmon proclaimed. “It’s preseason so we’re all out there to get a shot, but I believe I’m the main guy right now and I don’t plan on giving it away.”

Blackmon, who also is vying for the nickel cornerback spot, has spent his first two years with the Packers rehabilitating injuries, so he is counting on redemption this year, starting with special teams. Before every practice he arrives 20 minutes early to catch 20 punts from the punting machine.

The goal for a Green Bay punt returner is to average 10 yards per return, because that’s one fewer first down needed by the offense.

“But the main thing is ball security; that’s first and foremost,” said Blackmon, who considers his judgment his greatest asset even though he has 20-20 vision, is fast and rarely fumbled at Boston College. “Catch before you do anything; that’s my No. 1 thing.”

Said Stock: “We’ve wanted to be able see this from Will since he first put on a Green Bay Packers uniform. We’ve been waiting for this. He’s got loads of ability, tremendous potential, great attitude. It makes a difference with the other 10 guys, too. They see what the potential is; it makes them work a little harder to do a little better job blocking.”

Blackmon and Williams are the top combination in the kickoff-return package and they have the primary goal of getting the ball out to the 30-yard line or beyond.

“I think we’re going to be a real good combination,” Williams said. “I think the coaches are as excited as we are.”

As for the rest of the returners, Williams had six returns last year when Woodson was hurt and showed some promise.

Nelson had five punt returns at Kansas State last year for a 52.8 average, a mark inflated by two huge returns, including a 92-yard touchdown.

Stock said he was also considering rookie defensive back Pat Lee and wide receiver Taj Smith as kick returners.
-jsonline.com

Well thats good to hear and i can't really blame him. Being a punt returner is no joke because you know there are times when you are going to get laid out and can't do anything about it. He better stay healthy because he is a beast...i miss those BC days

newdude
08-13-2008, 03:45 PM
He have the abilities to become one of the top return man, but injuries slowed him down, so let's just hope he stays healthy.

socalpkrbkr
08-13-2008, 04:14 PM
I'm glad he's healthy, let us see how long that lasts. (fingers crossed) I personally think our return game is going to be good. Better than average for sure and we now have some depth with Jordy. I sure as hell hope C Dubs punt return days are long gone. I'm really excited for our KR and PR game this season.

ugottabjoshinme
08-13-2008, 04:17 PM
if he can stay healthy i am really excited for him to have a big year. We need it too.

Martz
08-13-2008, 06:12 PM
I thought he was a great pick when we drafted him and love his potential. I think he can be a real star. I'm glad he's finally healthy and can't wait to see him play this year.

4favre4
08-13-2008, 07:33 PM
Jordy looked good on punts 2.
I think Blackmon should do kicks and Jordy should do punts.
Williams is our 3rd CB we don't need him injured but im pretty sure he already has the kick returner spot locked down.

m2j3
08-13-2008, 09:00 PM
I'm glad to see this. I hope he can return to that level that he once was at. He used to be a good punt returner in college if I'm not mistaken.

hughest4
08-13-2008, 09:15 PM
I'm glad to see this. I hope he can return to that level that he once was at. He used to be a good punt returner in college if I'm not mistaken.

Haha, this whole article is about how he never did Punt Returns in college because he had this phobia. He didn't start returning them until he came to Green Bay. He had a real nice one against the Raiders last year and i look forward to seeing many more this year

socalpkrbkr
08-13-2008, 09:22 PM
Haha, this whole article is about how he never did Punt Returns in college


:laugh:

XJW18
08-13-2008, 11:15 PM
He have the abilities to become one of the top return man, but injuries slowed him down, so let's just hope he stays healthy.

true that..