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Return specialist continues to be a huge question mark

Nov 14, 2015; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange wide receiver Brisly Estime (9) avoids a tackle by Clemson Tigers cornerback Adrian Baker (21) during the fourth quarter of a game at the Carrier Dome. Clemson won 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 14, 2015; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange wide receiver Brisly Estime (9) avoids a tackle by Clemson Tigers cornerback Adrian Baker (21) during the fourth quarter of a game at the Carrier Dome. Clemson won 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Jets have had a non-existent return game for a number of years now. With offseason programs continuing, they still don’t have a clear answer as they’re in danger of being in the same predicament in 2017.

It’s a well-known fact that the Jets have had an extremely unproductive group of return men for years to come. There was some hope going into the 2016 season though as new pieces were brought in via the draft and free agency to try and bolster the unit.

Wide receivers Jalin Marshall and Jeremy Ross were added through the draft and free agency respectively, and both looked very promising during training camp. Things obviously fell through as both players disappointed during the regular season leaving the Jets in the same spot at the position.

As we now head into the 2017 season, things have changed too drastically with the Jets group of returners. Ross is no longer with the team, but Marshall remains on the roster. However, he will be serving a four-game suspension to start the season.

Marshall has a solid chance to be returning both punts and kicks when his suspension is over, but in order to be effective, his skill-set will need to improve greatly. Throughout his collegiate and professional career, he’s shown that he has the agility and vision to be a solid return man. He does lack speed though as his forty yard dash time was an unimpressive 4.6 seconds.

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What Marshall can realistically improve, which was clearly lacking last season is his decision-making and overall I.Q. There were plenty of occasions last year where Marshall seemed nearly lost while returning, and that will need to stop if he’s going to become a playmaker.

Another option currently within the roster is recently signed undrafted free agent, Brisly Estime, out of Syracuse. Esteem was a very highly regarded punt returner at Syracuse as he ranks first in ACC history with 18 yards per punt return. He also had two touchdowns as a punt returner last season.

Estime’s 4.42 forty yard dash time would make him much more of a home run threat than Marshall or any other potential return man on the Jets. His combination of speed and experience may make him the right man for the job.

However, his collegiate track record does not come even close to guaranteeing anything in the NFL. The Jets will need to figure things out at returner as they continue the search for an emerging talent. It’ll be interesting to see how the situation plays out through training camp.

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