The Extra Point
Rules changes aimed at safety have made kickoff returns almost a rarity in the NFL. Punters have gotten better each year at placing their kicks in spots that make it harder and harder to run back. Despite all that’s stacked up against them, there are still a few returners who can turn the sometimes mundane kicking plays into breathtaking ones.
Miami’s Jakeem Grant beat out Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill as the NFL’S top returner in 2018 in voting released Friday by a panel of 10 football writers for The Associated Press.
Grant received the honor the same week he was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a leg injury.
Grant has excelled as an all-around returner, ranking fourth in kick return average (29.7 yards) and first on punts (16.3) before his injury. Only six players have enough returns to qualify for the league leaders in both categories.
The return game is growing less important by the year. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of all kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks, the most in NFL history, and there have been fewer punt returns through 12 weeks than at any point since the merger.