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Falcons rookie WR Olamide Zaccheaus joins the punt returner battle

A new name to add to the list for perhaps the HOTTEST camp battle of all.

Belk Bowl - South Carolina v Virginia Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Early on in minicamp and OTAs, it looked like the returner gig would come down to 1-2 of Kenjon Barner, Marcus Green, or Shawn Bane. All three have productive histories as returners—Green and Bane in college, Barner in the NFL—and new special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica seems to be looking for dynamic options. In the end, you figure it’ll come down to either Barner or Green.

Based on the first day of training camp, we need to add Olamide Zaccheaus’s name to the competition, at least at punt returner. That’s a welcome development given Zaccheaus’s speed and burst, and it bodes well for his chances of latching on to a practice squad spot at minimum.

Zaccheaus does not have a long history as a returner—he had 35 kick returns for 686 yards (19.6 per return) and 5 punt returns for 34 yards (6.8 per return) in his college career—but his game at Virginia was predicated on his unreal burst and explosiveness, which can make defenders miss and made him a threat as a receiver and runner. That may translate into a productive future as a returner.

Again, expect Barner or Green (or both) to win returner jobs, but keep an eye on Zaccheaus because he has the talent to make this competition interesting.