With very few punt return opportunities for the Bengals during the 3rd preseason game against the Packers, it was difficult to compare players in the position battle at punt returner. In the first half, there was only one punt return opportunity – which belonged to Brandon Tate resulting in a fair catch. The second half provided more put return opportunities, however. The Green Bay Packers were forced to punt the ball five times in the second half.
While Brandon Tate was given both kickoff and punt return duties in the first half. In the second half, Running Back Aaron Brown was given one kickoff return to start the third quarter. Other than Brown’s kickoff return, Andrew Hawkins was given every punt return in the 3rd quarter. The 4th quarter was in the hands of wide receiver Marvin Jones.
Here is a summarized game log of both punt and kickoff returns by the Cincinnati Bengals:
Punt @ 12:19 – Brandon Tate: Fair Catch
Kickoff @ 7:56 – Brandon Tate: Touchback
Kickoff @ 3:26 – Brandon Tate: Touchback
Kickoff @ 4:59 – Brandon Tate: 25 yard return up the center to the Bengals 20 yard line.
Second Half Kickoff – Aaron Brown: 40 yard return up the middle of the field to the Bengals 34 yard line.
Punt @ 11:37 – Andrew Hawkins: 2 yard loss. Hawkins fought off defenders for a good eight seconds, but he couldn’t shake off the crowd of green and gold swarming him.
Punt @7:28 - Andrew Hawkins: Missed a fair catch along the sideline but was Hawkins was incidentally obstructed from connecting with the punt by Packers #41. Ball bounced out of bounds. Either way, it was a fair catch call.
Punt @ 3:32: Andrew Hawkins – Grabbed a bounce off the turf and gained 1 yard before being tackled on the sideline.
Punt @ 13:23 - Marvin Jones: Nice 18 yard return from Jones. He fought for an extra few yards on the play.
Kickoff @ 8:11 - Taveon Rodgers: Touchback
Punt @ 3:21 - Marvin Jones: Jones was tripped up along the sideline for a 1 yard return.
The last kickoff of the game was a touchback.
Much like Marvin Jones’ recent emergence in the receiving game, he appears to be making strides in the return game when given the opportunity late in the second half. It will be interesting to see if Marvin Jones will be catching punts with first or second team against the Indianapolis Colts for the final preseason game.
Brandon Tate still appears to be the primary returner, but he has Andrew Hawkins working hard behind him on the depth chart. It's also worth noting that Adam Jones will more than likely be involved in the return game assuming he returns this week against Indianapolis. If there is anything to take away from the Bengals third preseason game it’s that there were very few opportunities for any player in the first half due to Rodgers and the Green Bay offense either scoring on their drive or committing a turnover.