Oakland Raiders signing Powell looking to be impact returner


It is no secret that the Oakland Raiders have had a revolving door at the kick and punt return positions since general manager Reggie McKenzie took over the control of building the team’s roster. A long list of names trying their hand at the position, but no player managing to hold onto the job by delivering results in the return game for the Raiders quite yet in the McKenzie era.

This season alone the Raiders have drafted Andre Debose (who went on the IR before the season), signed Trindon Holliday (who couldn’t make the team), before using TJ Carrie, Roy Helu Jr., Amari Cooper, and Marcel Reece at either punt or kick returner to little success. A lack of a home run hitter in the return game leaving a hole in the Raiders special teams game through five games this season as the trend of little impact from the Oakland return men has continued in 2015.

Enter new signing Walt Powell, who is hoping that he can finally be the answer as the Raiders return weapon going forward. The former Murray State speedster who returned a punt for a touchdown in the preseason for the New York Jets looking to make the most of his opportunity on a Raiders team that is desperate to find a consistent difference maker in the return game.

Powell spoke to the media on Tuesday following the Raiders return to practice after the bye week, expressing his excitement to join the team as well as for the opportunity to potentially become the starting returner for a team that will give him his best chance to crack an NFL roster to date.

“I’m just real excited, real blessed to be a part of this team because it’s a great organization,” said Powell on Tuesday via the Raiders official website. “They need some returners, so hopefully I can be a spark for the team.”

“Whenever I get the ball in my hands I try to make a play. So hopefully I’ll get some opportunities and make the best of them.”

Powell added that there will be an adjustment process getting used to the Raiders blocking schemes on special teams, but he hopes to be able to make an instant impact by building as much of a relationship as he can before getting into game action with the team.

“All teams are different,” Powell told reporters. “You just have to study and just get a feel for the guys who are blocking for you because at the end of the day, those are the guys you have to run behind. Just have to build a good relationship with each of the guys and go from there.”

Powell doesn’t have much of a reputation in the NFL as a weapon in the return game, but his 59-yard touchdown run against the New York Giants in August showed that he has the potential to take it to the house when given the opportunity. The Raiders will be hoping that Powell is finally the answer to their long search of a consistent starter at the return position, something that could give the former small school wideout out of Murray State a chance to become a fixture in the NFL if he can hit the ground running in Oakland.

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