Dave Fipp talks punt returner options if (when?) Kalif Raymond misses game vs. Rams
Lions punt returner Kalif Raymond suffered a knee injury in Week 18 against the Vikings. While the status of tight end Sam LaPorta is getting most of the attention, Dan Campbell suggested Raymond was less likely to plan than LaPorta early this week.
On that front, via Ben Raven of MLive, special teams coach Dave Fipp addressed who would take over punt return duties if Raymond can't go on Sunday night.
"A guy like St. Brown, could he do that? It’s possible. He’s (St. Brown) been an emergency returner for us all season long. Obviously we’ve got Donovan (Peoples-Jones) who did it in Cleveland, so that could be an option.
“Then you got Mo (Maurice) Alexander on the practice squad, if we’re able to get him up. He would be a great option. He’s a great player. So, anyway, it’ll be one of those.”
St. Brown has never returned a punt in three seasons as a Lion, but he did do so a bit in college at USC. As Fipp mentioned, Peoples-Jones returned punts with the Browns, and in 2022 he averaged 12.4 yards per return with a touchdown. Alexander has yet to play a game this season, as he spent the regular season on the practice squad. But he has done well as a return man when he's gotten chances for the Lions the last two preseasons and as a kickoff returner last year.
Fipp was asked about Jameson Williams, who is line to return after missing Week 18 with an ankle injury and should he be healthy enough, as an option to return punts. The response was short.
"I see him a little further down the line than those other guys I mentioned,” Fipp said.
The Rams are last in the NFL in yards allowed per punt return (15.5), with two punt return touchdowns allowed during the regular season. So the Lions choice of who will replace Raymond, assuming that choice has to be made, should not be dismissed as minor or unimportant. It could end up being more than one of the aforementioned options, depending on the situation.