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With Jacoby Jones still sidelined, Deonte Thompson made his 2013 season debut as the Ravens kick returner at Buffalo and drew positive reviews from special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg.
Thompson, who missed almost all of the preseason after suffering an ankle injury at Tampa Bay in the first preseason game, returned three kicks for 73 yards against the Bills (24.3 avg.) with a long of 34.
"He hit the return fast. The one return that there was a hole there, he did all of the things that we want a returner to do," Rosburg said in his weekly news conference on Thursday. Referring to a later return of 21 yards, Rosburg said Thompson "protected the ball and got what he could – so it’s a good start for him. I think he was anxious to get out there again, and now that he’s dusted that off, hopefully, it will be great things to come for him.”
Ball security is a key attribute for any return man, and it cost Thompson last season. He opened the year as the Ravens' kick returner, and averaged 25.9 yards on 15 returns with a long of 49. But then he fumbled away a kickoff at Kansas City. The Ravens switched to Jones the next week against Dallas, and the first time Jones returned a kick he went 108 yards for a touchdown. Thompson didn't return another kick all season.
But Thompson's straight-line speed and big-play ability make him a more ideal kick returner than running backs Bernard Pierce or Shaun Draughn, both of whom have lined up as the deep man while Jones has been sidelined.
Thompson, though, got his bell rung while catching a deep pass late in the game against Buffalo. Coach John Harbaugh said on Monday that Thompson would go through the NFL's concussion protocol, and although he sounded optimistic about Thompson's condition, Thompson has not practiced yet this week and his status for Sunday is up in the air.
You can bet that Thompson, a Florida native and former Gator wants to be in action this week at Miami, especially after already missing more than a month with a foot injury.
Jones, meanwhile, has returned to practice in a limited fashion, but Rosburg did not give a timetable on Jones' return to game action.