Mike Smith isn't usually a fan of clarity. The Falcons sometimes seem to be run by Soviet-era intelligence, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.
Still, here we are in early August and we appear to know who's going to win the kick and punt returner jobs. We know because Smitty—in his oblique, meandering, I'm-not-telling-you-anything-but-I'm-telling-you-something kind of way—is letting us know:
"I think we’re going to look at a couple of guys but right now Harry would probably be the guy that is going to catch some punts and Quizz will be the guy that will return some kickoffs," Smith said. "We have some other guys on our roster that we need to evaluate and that’s what the preseason is for. There will be a number of guys that will get an opportunity to do it in the first preseason game."
After the jump, quick thoughts on this likelihood.
Rodgers is a mild surprise, because I thought the team was more likely to put Harry Douglas or a James Rodgers/Antone Smith there. Still, he's a true weapon, and if he's only going to be counted on for ten or less touches a game, he'll be valuable as a returner.
Douglas, meanwhile, was a pretty talented punt returner back in his rookie season in 2008. He'd be a fine choice to cover it again in 2012, with his combination of speed and agility.
I don't love putting either guy in a position where they might get injured on special teams, not when they both have value for the offense. I do understand the philosophy of giving the jobs to your best players, though, and that appears to be what's happening. The usual caveats apply—Smitty's opaque!—but I've got a feeling this is the way it will end up.
I've said all along that guys like James Rodgers and to a lesser extent Antone Smith don't have a ton of value if they can't lock down returner roles, and I certainly stand by that. Dominique Franks will make the roster by virtue of being a fairly promising young cornerback, but those other two guys are operating at running back, a position that promises to be reasonably stacked. If Douglas and Jacquizz are the two early frontrunners, they're probably going to get the spots.
Your thoughts on the position battle?