GREEN BAY – Micah Hyde was so good on his 93-yard punt return for a touchdown Sunday night against the Minnesota Vikings that the Green Bay Packers rookie might’ve gotten himself an additional gig: Returning kickoffs.
At this point, special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum is willing to do just about anything to jump-start the kick return unit, which ranks last in the NFL (15.3-yard average).
“I think we’ve been really not very effective there through the whole first part of the season. I think it’s time that we start generating some production in that area,” Slocum said Monday. “It means playing better, it means whoever’s out there getting the job done.
“Each game is a new game, each week presents a new set of circumstances and it’ll be important that we make good decisions heading into it, practicing and being effective in the game.”
In the Packers’ 44-31 victory over the Vikings, Hyde lined up to field second half opening kickoff after fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin, who took over the job after the release of incumbent returner Jeremy Ross on Sept. 23, appeared indecisive on a pair of kicks.
“I just thought that he had success there at the end of the second quarter with the punt return and he’s been working on it and I felt like the first two returns, we didn’t get what we needed,” Slocum said. “(So) I decided to go with him.”
Hyde returned punts but not kickoffs while in college at Iowa. His 93-yard punt return Sunday night is tied for the fourth-longest in Packers team history.
“A punt return like Micah’s, that’s an impactful play, that’s a game changer. It was a huge momentum play for us,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. “That in itself I think speaks of how we feel about Micah Hyde. I don’t know if there’s been too many weeks where we handed out a game ball after winning and he’s not receiving one. So he’s playing very well, very well.”
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