New York Jets: Should Chris Owusu be a return specialist?
Chris Owusu was a mid-season signing for the New York Jets in 2014. He managed to make appearances in five games of the 2014 season, the season finale against the Miami Dolphins had to be his best game of his short career. Owusu made an impact in the Jets’ offense that day. In the first quarter he made a beautiful leaping catch in double coverage for a 36-yard gain as he finished that drive with a pitch from quarterback Geno Smith, which resulted in a 23-yard touchdown. Owusu was also explosive on special teams, returning the second half kick-off for an 87-yard gain.
Even though the Jets victory in the season finale over the Dolphins meant nothing as the Jets finished with a disappointing 4-12 record, it was a shining moment for Owusu as he had the game of his life that day.
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Owusu went undrafted in 2012 out of Stanford latching on with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a few years.
While he never mounted to anything much more than a special team player or a back up receiver in Tampa, Owusu found himself years later on the Jets’ roster. At the current moment, Owusu hasn’t made that big of an impact with the Jets, despite being active for just five games last season. He should hopefully be in for a bigger role in 2015. Receiver wise, Owusu has the potential but with Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and rookie Devin Smith on the depth chart, his role in 2015 should come as a return specialist.
Owusu is one of the fastest guys on the Jets’ roster recording a 4.36 in the forty-yard dash. While that may not mean much, plenty of players have recorded faster forty times and are currently un-employed. Running back Chris Johnson currently holds the record for the fastest forty-yard dash time in the NFL Combine but has yet to receive any interest from an NFL team since being released by the Jets earlier this year.
Owusu’s forty time may not guarantee him a roster spot but one particular skill may just help out his cause as he projects an impressive 27.3 yard return average. Out of 78 returns, Owusu has returned three of them for touchdowns. He has a career total of 3 kick-returns, one of his returns went for 87-yards and another for 45-yards.
Dec 7, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Chris Owusu (14) bobbles and then catches a pass as Minnesota Vikings cornerback Josh Robinson (21) tackles him in the second quarter at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings win 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
When we’re talking about the bottom roster spots available for players, the margins are slim and mistakes to be made are slim to none. Compared to players the Jets could possibly bring in, Owusu seems like a better lottery ticket than most.
He brings speed, acceleration, durability and heart to the table for the Jets, something many players in the past have failed to show. With that being said, it seems reasonably worth exploring to see what he can bring to the Jets for the 2015 season.
Would I bet the farm that Owusu will become the go-to guy or the franchise guy for the Jets? Odds are it’s highly doubtful he’ll be anything more than a return specialist or a No. 4 receiver, but it’s certainly conceivable that he can bring some value to the Jets as a kick returner.
The position is very much up for grabs, with the departure of Percy Harvin and a failed experiment in Saalim Hakim who have failed to take over the full-time duty of being a kick returner. Owusu is set for success if he’s able to exceed expectations and prove his value on special teams. As long as he can pick up from where he left off from last season, Owusu will most likely be the Jets full-time kick returner in 2015.
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