World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Punt returner

Article Id: WHEBN0004075311
Reproduction Date:

Title: Punt returner  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: 2009 College Football All-America Team, Antonio Brown, Jammer (American football), Gunner (American football), Mid-American Conference football individual awards
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Punt returner

Devin Hester fielding a punt during the special teams practice at the Chicago Bears 2007 Training Camp.

Punt Returner (PR) is a position on special teams in American football.


The role of a punt returner is to catch the ball after it is punted and to give his team good field position (or a touchdown if possible) by returning it. Before catching the punted ball, the returner must assess the situation on the field while the ball is still in the air. He must determine if it is actually beneficial for his team to attempt a return. If it appears that the players from the punting team will be too close to the returner by the time he catches the ball, or it appears the ball will go into his own end zone, the punt returner can elect not to return the ball by choosing one of two options:

  • Call for a fair catch by waving one arm above his head before catching the punt. This means that the play will end once the catch is made; the punt returner's team will get the ball at the spot of the catch and no return attempt can be made. The fair catch minimizes the chances of a fumble or injury because it ensures that the returner is fully protected from the opposing team, whose players may not touch the returner or attempt to interfere with the catch in any way after the fair catch signal is given. In the NFL, a fair catch also allows the fair catch kick to be used on the next play, even with no time on the clock remaining, to attempt a field goal via free kick. However, this option is rarely exercised.
  • Avoid the ball and let it hit the ground. Under this option the ball will go into the returning team's end zone for a touchback, go out of bounds and be spotted at that point, or come to final rest in the field of play and be downed by a player on the punting team. This is the safest option, as it completely eliminates the chance of a fumble and ensures that the returner's team will get possession of the ball. However, it also provides an opportunity for the punting team to pin the returner's team deep in their own territory by downing the ball or sending it out of bounds near the returner's end zone. This can not only give the return team poor field position, but can even lead to a safety.

The position demands footspeed, quick reflexes, and good hands. Punt returners sometimes also return kickoffs and usually play other positions, especially wide receiver, defensive back and running back, although sometimes as backups. An analogous position exists in Canadian football, though differences in rules affect play considerably. See Comparison of Canadian and American football for a complete discussion of the punt returner's role in the Canadian game.

External links

  • definition of punt returner
  • National Football League rules digest sections relating to punt returners: Kicks from scrimmage and Fair catch
  • Article on college punt returner Jim Leonhard which discusses many aspects of the position
  • Comparison of Canadian Football League and National Football League rules
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.