Bucs rookie Shaun Wilson to return kickoffs against Saints

Bucs undrafted rookie Shaun Wilson averaged 26.5 yards on kickoff returns during the preseason. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Bucs undrafted rookie Shaun Wilson averaged 26.5 yards on kickoff returns during the preseason. [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
Published September 6 2018
Updated September 6 2018

When the Buccaneers released their depth chart earlier this week, they listed two possibilities at kick returner, Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Shaun Wilson. The plan as of now, however, is for Wilson to return the kickoffs Sunday against the Saints.

Wilson returned six kickoffs this preseason and ran three of them back at least 30 yards. His 26.5-yard average was the highest on the team.

The Bucs have struggled in this phase for the past couple of seasons. They gained a league-low 14.6 yards per return in 2016 and a below-average 21.6 yards per return in 2017. Their ineffectiveness cost them 8.9 points in 2016 and 0.6 points in 2017, according to Football Outsiders' advanced metrics.

RELATED STORY: How the NFL's new kickoff rules will affect the Bucs

During the offseason, the NFL approved several changes to kickoffs, including the elimination of running starts for the kicking team, which might open up lanes for returners and lead to more touchdowns.

"The scary thing is you don't know — with the new rule change — what, if anything, people have been saving," Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said. "You know you always have that fear on offense and defense as well. … But I wouldn't be a bit surprised if these special teams guys around the league — they're creative just like everybody else is, so I wouldn't be surprised if guys are going to try to test the boundaries a little bit once the season starts."

Contact Thomas Bassinger at tbassinger@tampabay.com. Follow @tometrics.

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