When wide receiver and return man Jacoby Ford was lost for the season to a Lisfranc injury in the preseason, the Raiders struggled to replace his production. Because of his speed and quickness, Ford provides a number of match-up problems for defenses. However, his greatest contribution to the Raiders is in the return game.
Last season the Raiders struggled in the return game immensely. Mike Goodson and Coye Francies took over the duties when Ford was lost. Neither was able to give the Raiders a huge spark and affect the game through returns. Goodson had the longest return of the season at 51 yards. Francies averaged 23.8 yards per return and a long of 32. For a team at struggled often offensively, a boost in the return game could have made a huge difference.
With Ford recovering from his foot injury, the Raiders return game is getting healthier. As he continues to make the transition to NFL wide receiver, his greatest value is as a kickoff return specialist. He is progressing as a receiver and caught 19 passes in eight games in 2011.
As a rookie, Ford was able to take three kickoffs back for touchdowns with a long of 101 yards. He returned another his second season, giving him four career kickoff return touchdowns out of only 64 total returns. With the production, the Raiders will welcome Ford back into a return game in need of a jolt. Running back Darren McFadden suffered the same injury as Ford and still had all his speed, quickness, and power, so Ford should come back with all the explosiveness that makes him a top end returner.
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