Could Harry Douglas handle punt returns?

January, 9, 2013
1/09/13
11:32
AM ET
Atlanta coach Mike Smith has a reputation for being conservative. It’s a reputation he’s earned over the course of five seasons.

But maybe Smith, who still is seeking his first playoff victory, is willing to change. There are at least indications there could be a shake-up at punt returner when the Falcons host the Seahawks in Sunday’s playoff game.

Special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong said there is at least a chance wide receiver Harry Douglas could handle punt returns against Seattle.

I’m all for that. Dominique Franks handled punt returns during most of the regular season and was far from spectacular. Franks averaged 7.8 yards per return and had 18 fair catches.

The Falcons let Douglas handle some punt returns in the regular-season finale against Tampa Bay. Douglas last handled punt returns as a rookie in 2008.

I understand why Smith didn’t want Douglas as the main punt returner in the regular season. Douglas has enough duties on offense to keep him busy.

But Douglas has the potential to be much more explosive than Franks on punt returns. In the playoffs, you want to be as explosive as possible.

Even if it means breaking away from conservative ways.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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