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  • Writer's pictureBrett Favre

Top 2024 Seahawks Training Camp Storylines: Who Handles Return Duties & How Much Does The New Kickoff Rule Change Things?

As Seahawks training camp is set to start the last week of this month, Seahawks. com is engaging in a list of ten of the most exciting storylines, jobs, and players getting into the 2024 season. Today, we begin the coverage of special teams and more specifically we focus on the return game. Come back tomorrow when we preview tight end, a position group that will have a very different look this year.

Key Special Teams Additions: As for TE, Pharaoh Brown is a free agent signing; for WR, Laviska Shenault Jr. ; multiple rookies with unclear roles.

Key Special Teams Departures: LB/FB Nick Bellore is a free agent RB DeeJay Dallas is a signee with Arizona.

They start the ’24 season anew, to boot, after hiring Mike Macdonald to be their head coach after Pete Carroll’s 14-year term ends, but there’s going to be continuity regarding the fact they are going to maintain the importance of special teams no matter who their head coach is. The previous Carroll the Seahawks were always within the top of that phase of the game, and Macdonald surely has it in mind to continue as most of his coaching career has been under Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who Two decades were a special teams coach before he became the head coach Ravens in 2008.

But simple good luck to Macdonald and a new special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh in the sense that the Seahawks are returning almost all their key special teams players from the last season, players such as kicker Jason Myers, punter Michael Dickson, long snapper Chris Stoll, and core special teams players Jon Rhattigan, Brady Russell, Derick Hall, Michael Jackson and Jerrick Reed though the latter may not be available for the start

However there certainly are challenges for Harbaugh at the beginning of his first season as an NFL special teams coordinator and primarily because of the rule modification that was approved in the off-season that will greatly alter the kicking off. Since the change of the rule that seeks to help double the amount of kick returns, while making it a little safer, Harbaugh and every other special teams coach in the NFL, is still working to decipher the best strategy in which to defend kickoffs, and also attempting to create plays in the return game.

“Guys are having a lot of fun,” Harbaugh said earlier this offseason. “It’s thrilling to have it, It’s pretty much news to everyone, so it’s rather fun to see what people come up with and it shouldn’t matter whether it applied to the old kick off or the kick return, it’s quite actually fun to find out what still does or does not apply. It’s pretty much trial and error and it’s quite nice to do it in such an organized way. ”

Of course the training camp and the preseason will be useful sessions for the Seahawks and other teams aiming to establish how to avoid the penalty and incorporate the new rule, nevertheless watching how the concept will evolve into the reign of regular season when teams will unveil a wider variety of plays in the games of return and kick coverage Harbaugh is correct.

“Honestly? It’ll probably be in the regular season,” Harbaugh said, indicating it will be a few weeks before coaches are able to fully determine the strongest and weakest strategies, “I think you’ll see probably five, six, seven eight weeks, pretty rapid changes, and anyone that has an advantage early will probably be able to keep that advantage for a little while until people catch up. ”

Making the mystery when it comes to the return game even more interesting is that at this time, the kickoff or punt return positions are far from being manned, as we head into camp.

Dee Eskridge performed kickoff returns at instances during each of the past two years, but because of injuries, he did not hold down that assignment throughout the year. Their punt returner all of last season and their kick returner for most of last season, DeeJay Dallas, signed with Arizona in free agency so Seattle will need a new punter and, along with Eskridge, another option or two in kick returns.

This new format of the kickoff has been remarked by Harbaugh and other special teams coaches in which they had pointed out that this set up will have teams use two individuals in the return areas and even if Eskridge is definitely healthy and very much in the running for this position the Seahawks will definitely have to have a back up for this position. Some of the available options include free-agent addition wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. who has prior college and NFL return experience, undrafted rookie Dee Williams during his time at Tennessee he was an excellent punt and kick returner, second-year running back Kenny McIntosh who due to injuries was sparingly used in his rookie season, but as a Georgia Bulldog, he was a kick and punt returner.

Having one of the top punters and a kicker on the roster along with several other starters from their core special teams unit returning in 2024, the Seahawks have all the bases for continued strong performance in this phase of the game covered in Seattle except for sorting out the new return game rule as well as their return men for punt and kickoff, all of which will be the tasks for Jay Harbaugh and his crews throughout training camp and the pre-season

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