Oakland Raiders cornerback/return specialist Bryan McCann at 2012 OTA's (photo by Levi Damien)
Thus far in camp, no one has really stepped up and grabbed ahold of the punt return duties. Last season the duties were handled by Denaius Moore and Bryan McCann. In this year's camp, it has been Jacoby Ford who has handled those duties.
Before Ford was injured, he did not perform well in the punt return duties. Now, with his foot sprain, he can't perform is punt return duties either. Moore is out with a hamstring injury and when he eventually does return, the team may opt not to put him back returning punts as he did before.
This uncertainty at the position is of some concern to Dennis Allen.
"Right now we're looking at Bryan McCann [at punt and kick returner]." Said Allen. "But that's obviously a position we've got some concern over and we're gonna be evaluating the guys that we have here but we're also gonna be looking at the rosters of the other 31 teams and see if there's anyone that comes available that can help us in that regard."
McCann is certainly capable of performing both return duties. Although often teams will have a different player at each position, as the Raiders did last season. In his two seasons in the NFL, McCann has returned 39 kicks and 13 punts. In seven games for the Raiders last season, he returned 13 kicks and 3 punts. So, the feelers being put out would likely be to find a punt returner, There are usually some guys out there. After all, McCann was a midseason free agent pickup.
The first roster cutdown will happen August 27, just after week three of the preseason. That is when teams must go from their maximum 90 players, down to 75 player. This means that as many as 465 players from other NFL teams will suddenly become available.
Many teams will cut good players in the first trim so they can have time to find another roster. It is a respectful thing to do in many cases rather than hold onto them until the final cut while the slim roster spots available go to other players.
The Raiders currently have 87 players on the roster which means they could add as many as three players at any time without cutting anyone.