Should the Falcons put Bijan Robinson back at punt returner?

Bijan Robinson was used as a punt returner once during his rookie year but will likely not see any more time at the position.
Atlanta Falcons v Arizona Cardinals
Atlanta Falcons v Arizona Cardinals / Mike Christy/GettyImages

Arthur Smith was in the middle of being blasted for not using rookie running back Bijan Robinson enough going into week ten. The talented runner had just 199 rushing yards over the previous five games.

In his home state, the Tucson native was finally given the ball consistently. He caught one pass, took 22 handoffs for 95 yards and a touchdown, and was also used as a punt returner.

While the Falcons were one of the worst teams when it came to punt returns, that move felt like more than just an effort to switch things up. It felt like a middle finger from Arthur Smith to all of his critics asking for him to be used more—punt returns are not exactly what they had in mind.

It didn't mean anything since it was the only time he lined up as a returner, but could we see that change in 2024?

Will the Falcons use Bijan Robinson as a return specialist?

Bijan Robinson's talents are so special that he can line up anywhere and be productive. Not only can he play running back but he can also be a slot receiver and return specialist.

His instincts, vision, and quickness give him a wide-open path to becoming a great punt returner. However, that doesn't mean he should be used as one.

Before we get into all the weeds, the answer to this question is a firm 'no.' Using him on special teams is both unnecessary and not smart.

Atlanta went from having the best punt return unit in 2022 to having the worst in 2023. They searched all over the roster to find a productive returner as they switched between Mike Hughes, Dee Alford, and Scotty Miller.

Avery Williams' season-ending injury is the reason for the massive drop-off. The Falcons now have a fully healthy Williams in 2024 to go with another good returner in Ray-Ray McCloud III. Those two have proven to be more than capable of handling the position.

Even if Bijan is the best option on the club, exposing him to extra hits and injury risk is not smart. It is the same reason the Chiefs stopped using Tyreek Hill as a punt returner years ago. You cannot risk losing your best offensive weapon for a marginal upgrade.

No matter what happens, I don't see the Atlanta Falcons using Bijan Robinson on special teams. Maybe if it is late in the game and you need a big return then the talented running back will go back to catch punts but outside of that, don't expect to see the sophomore used anywhere other than on offense.

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