Blackmon's Returns Pay Dividends For Special Teams

It’s difficult to get too excited about a preseason game, but be that as it may, it’s never too early for a player to separate himself from the pack. It appears that’s exactly what Will Blackmon did as a returner for the Packers special teams units Saturday night. - More | Packers-Seahawks Gameday

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It's difficult to get too excited about a preseason game, but be that as it may, it's never too early for a player to separate himself from the pack.

It appears that's exactly what Will Blackmon did as a returner for the Packers special teams units Saturday night.

Blackmon, who missed nearly all of last season due to injuries, will clearly have to make the Packers roster as a defensive back first and foremost, but it also can't hurt his chances that he's given the Packers special teams such a boost in their first couple of preseason games.

The 6-foot, 202-pound cornerback from Boston College showed speed and elusiveness for an 83-yard kickoff return that set up the Packers' first touchdown of the game. And though a horse collar tackle from Seattle's Michael Boulware prevented Blackmon from scoring on the play, it didn't matter. He had done his job by securing the ball and putting the Packers in a prime position to score.

According to Blackmon, things went just as he and his teammates had planned.

"Well number one, when I'm back there, I trust the 10 guys in front of me," Blackmon said. "We talked about it when we met, and they said, 'Will, if you keep running well, we're going to block for you.' I trust you guys, it's my job to catch the ball and run and hold onto it. I know you guys are going to do your jobs, I'm not worried about it.

"We talked all week about it and it showed today."

One of the Packers' goals in the offseason was to identify both a punt returner and kick returner and besides Blackmon, wide receivers Shaun Bodiford and David Clowney have thrown their hat into the ring. However, the team has to be feeling pretty good about the spark that Blackmon provides when he gets his hands on the ball. But don't try telling him the job is his to lose.

"We still have two more games left," Blackmon said. "I'm just going to go out there with confidence and every time I return the ball try to either get a touchdown or good field position. Who knows though, that decision won't be made until the Philly game."

At any rate, Head Coach Mike McCarthy likes what he sees so far of Blackmon, who also returned one of his two punts for 16 yards.

"I thought Will did a real nice job setting (up) the return, the one he had," McCarthy said. "There was a major emphasis in the offseason (with) the finishing of the blocks in the return game."

{sportsad300}Another person who is very excited about Blackmon's potential is starting cornerback and last season's punt returner, Charles Woodson. Playing defense full-time and then staying in the game to field punts puts a great deal of stress on any player and also makes them more susceptible to injury. And although Woodson held up very well last season, it's understandable that McCarthy and the coaching staff want to give him a break from those duties this season.

Woodson admits he's not against a lighter workload, either.

"Hey, I'll give it to him," Woodson said when asked if he should still be the punt returner. "If he continues to work the way he's working...You can see he can break tackles. So we'll get him (some) blocking out there on special teams and he'll make plays."

If nothing else, Woodson is more than happy to help Blackmon with some suggestions and helpful tips along the way. Playing in the NFL for a decade and serving as a dangerous punt returner for several years, Woodson is somewhat of an authority figure of what it takes to succeed in the return game.

So far, he likes what he sees in his new protégé of sorts, calling Blackmon's performance Saturday night "special."

"What he was able to do on the kickoff return, especially," Woodson added. "And then also to go do it on the punt return. Those are the type of things you need to see once games start for a young guy. See if he can go out there and handle himself in a game situation against another opponent.

"So far this year, he's stepped up. But just like I said about the defense, it's all about consistency. It looks like he wants that job, so we'll see what he does from here on out."

If Saturday is any indication, it just might be Blackmon's to keep.

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