Steelers return duty competition has mixed history in Pittsburgh

USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have had good returners on poor teams and fill-in returners on good teams. Will they have both in 2013?

There's been a bit of conversation circulating about the Steelers potential return men for the 2013 season.

It's always one of the most intriguing positions, yet, the least stable, on the team. There was the allure of Chris Rainey last year, which he sort of lived up to. He was one of the better kick returners in the NFL last season.

This year's version of that is Reggie Dunn, a guy who'd be a borderline miracle to make the team, yet, we talk about him frequently anyway.

Again, it's that intrigue behind one of the most exciting plays in all of sports, a kickoff or punt return touchdown. The trick is finding a guy who can do it at a high level while still holding down some value as depth at another position.

Guys in recent Steelers past rosters, like Allen Rossum and Stefan Logan in 2007 and 2009, respectively. The Steelers also won a Super Bowl with Gary Russell and Najeh Davenport returning kicks in 2008.

Is it feast or famine with Steelers' return men, or is there an understandable correlation between mediocre returners who also fill game day roles within the offense or defense?

The addition of LaRod Stephens-Howling to the roster seems a step at finding the elusive middle ground between those things. He might be able to compete for third down duties this year as well as contribute extensively on special teams. It could be the sign of the end for 2011 draft pick Baron Batch.

But if the Steelers are going to become a dynamic return team, something they really haven't been in some time, they will need a player who can contribute in both phases of the game.

Let that be a message, Mr. Dunn.


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