A return specialist is a player on American football or Canadian football special teams who specializes in returning punts and kickoff returns. There are few players who are exclusively return specialists; most play other positions as well. The special teams counterpart of a return specialist is a kicking specialist.
According to 2012 College Football All-America Team selection Venric Mark: "Returning punts is harder". "You have to judge the ball more, you have to know when to fair catch and when not to. You can't be a superhero and try to catch everything. With kick returns, you catch the ball and — boom — you're going."
Notable return specialists are Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Devin Hester, Tennessee Titans running back Leon Washington, Percy Harvin of the Buffalo Bills, Dwayne Harris or the New York Giants, and cornerback Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals.
- Greenstein, Teddy (2010-08-24). "Northwestern's Mark attracting notice: Freshman likely to get nod returning kickoffs and will get shot at punts". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
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