Vikings Head Coach Brad Childress and special teams coordinator Brian Murphy have been asked several times this week about who will assume the role of punt returner. Darius Reynaud had previously held the duty but he was included in a trade with the NY Giants last week.
No clear-cut candidate has been revealed to assume the responsibility on an exclusive basis, so expect multiple players to take their turn setting under punts. Childress did disclose, however, that WR Bernard Berrian will get the 1st turn when the Vikings open the regular season on Thursday evening in New Orleans.
“Bernard will start back there,” Childress said on Tuesday. “Greg (Camarillo) has the ability to do that, as does Percy (Harvin). I can see us rotating a few guys through. Asher Allen has done it for us as well and if Marcus Sherels was up he could do it as well.”
Of the players Childress named, Berrian and Allen have the most NFL experience returning punts. Allen was in the preseason rotation and averaged 4.0 yards per return on 4 attempts. Berrian has quite a bit more experience having returned 12 punts in 3 years while with the Chicago Bears and then displaying his game-changing speed in the punt return role with the Viking in 2008.
Berrian has returned 9 punts as a Viking with a 14.1-yard average. Against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 15 (2008), Berrian returned a punt 82 yards for a score in what wound up being a Vikings rout. That’s the kind of game-breaking and game-changing ability that can make a difference in the punt return role.
“What I like most about him is he’s undervalued as a guy that usually catches the football pretty well,” Childress said of Berrian in the punt return role. “He did a good job early in his career in Chicago and then he’s got the ability to make a guy miss and the speed to be able to take it all the way. And when you’re looking at those guys, you don’t want guys that get ten yards through a ten-yard hole. If it happens to break, he’s got the ability to hurt you with his speed.”
Tags: Bernard Berrian
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