Tomlin Not Opposed To Using Sanders On Kickoff Returns Moving Forward

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was used as the kick returner late in the game against the Baltimore Ravens and his 44 yard return gave the offense great field position to begin their game-winning drive that culminated in a 42-yard field goal by kicker Shaun Suisham. During his Tuesday press conference, head coach Mike Tomlin said he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of Sanders returning kicks this Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

“I haven’t got to that phase of the game yet,” laughed Tomlin. “In terms of our kickoff return, obviously, I know what Emmanuel is capable of and I’m not opposed to doing it, but I’ve got to look at schematics before I make those kind of determinations.”

Over the course of his career, Sanders has returned 32 kickoffs for 792 yards, but hasn’t been used primarily in that role since his rookie season. In fact, Sunday’s return was just his seventh since 2010.

So far this season, backup running back Felix Jones has been used as the primary kickoff returner ever since running back LaRod Stephens-Howling went down with a season-ending knee injury in the season opener. While Jones does sport a 25.9 yard average so far on his 10 kickoff returns this year, Sanders has the better ability to take one back all the way for a touchdown, which he would have done Sunday had he not been ruled as stepping out of bounds.

  • steeltown


    We’re paying him $2.5MIL lets get our monies worth, if you’re willing to use A.Brown on punts, why not E.Sanders on kickoffs??

    Maybe wait till Wheaton is active again, but at that point they should atleast let Sanders split duties with Felix on KR

  • Fire.Mike.Tomlin

    Sanders doesn’t have the best history of ball security …. not sure I like this no matter how ‘electric’ he might be in space…

  • steeltown

    I thought of that for a moment, but he’s turned the ball over twice since being drafted, same as A.Brown, who is currently returning punts

  • Fire.Mike.Tomlin

    Raw #’s I see are that
    Sanders 6 (3 lost)
    Brown 5 (2 lost)
    Which doesn’t sound that dissimilar
    However, when comparing to total touches
    Sanders fumbles 3.6% of touches (1.8 %, lost)
    Brown fumbles 1.4% of touches (0.6%, lost)
    that 3-1 ratio of how frequently they lose fumbles (which to be fair , has a lot of ‘luck’ involved) is what stands out to me as the big difference.

  • steeltown

    Ah you may be right, I wasn’t looking at receiving, and PR/KR fumbles

  • Douglas Andrews

    That’s a good average for Felix Jones but I like the home run ability of Sanders. We should be getting every drop out of Sanders this year because he’s prob outta here next year.

  • Riverstko

    Felix Jones runs the ball out when its too deep sometimes and mess up the field position. Sanders adds a spark!