Bears Questions: Who Returns Kicks?

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Kieren Duncan – The Bears are looking to get faster as a team and Duncan has the potential to be one of the fastest players in the NFL. His 4.25 40-time at a regional combine got the Bears attention and earned Duncan an invite to mini-camp, where he impressed enough to be added to the 90-man roster.

There is no doubt that Duncan’s speed is elite and he utilized it well at DII Colorado St with a 30.6 yard kick-return average which would have been 2nd in the NFL last season. He also flashed some receiving skills in college, catching 81 passes over the last two seasons with an average of 17 yards per catch.

Duncan is a long-shot to make the final roster, but a player with that much speed is worth a longer look. It’s doubtful he will crack the Bears already crowded depth chart at receiver, so Duncan’s best shot of sticking around will be as a return specialist.

It’s unlikely Duncan will beat out both veteran returners in Thompson and Mariani, but the Bears could stash Duncan on the practice squad as special teams depth like they did with Thompson in 2015.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

Derek Keaton – Undrafted free agent who was a dangerous return specialist in college, leading the Sun Belt conference with a 15.3 punt return average and finished 2nd in kick return average with 26.5 ypr.

Keaton was named first team All-Sun Belt as a return specialist. He doesn’t bring much to the table as a receiver with only four receptions last season, so will have to really stand out as a returner to make the team.

Next: So Who is the Bears Kick Returner in 2016?