Even with kickoffs moving up five yards and the elimination of any type of wedge blocking, neither
Cribbs is the NFL’s all-time leader with eight kickoff return touchdowns and earned the honor of being named the kick returner on the 2000s NFL All-Decade Team. He has gained 7,863 yards on kickoff returns and 1,309 yards on punt returns in his career.
“It’s like a home-run hitter; are you going to make him take on 3-0? I don’t know,” Shurmur said. “He’s a competitor; he’s a playmaker. The one thing about Josh that I appreciate is when he gets into ball games, he loves to play the game. He doesn’t mind blocking; he doesn’t mind catching the ball in the middle of the field. It takes a great amount of courage now to return those kicks. There’s a lot going on. I’ve got a lot of respect for him for those reasons.”
If anything, Cribbs embraces the challenge of fielding kickoffs deeper in the end zone.
“It’s an obstacle that I’m looking forward to getting over,” Cribbs said. “I’m just kind of waiting for the next obstacle to be put in the way. It seems like things are being taken away from the game, but like I said, it’s fair because the whole league has to deal with it. I haven’t returned one this year, but I’m really anxious to bring it out that end zone.”
A former quarterback at nearby Kent State University, Cribbs’ unique skill-set has been utilized in a variety of ways, from running the team’s Wildcat package to throwing a two-point conversion pass at the Arizona Cardinals in 2007.
Although Cribbs has made his reputation on special teams, he is also working on developing as a wide receiver.
Last season, Cribbs caught 23 passes for 292 yards and one touchdown. He averaged a career-best 12.7 yards-per-catch and had a 65-yard touchdown reception in the home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Cribbs caught four passes for 47 yards in this year’s preseason games.
“I think my route running is crisp, a lot more than it was last season and just catching the football and being able to be consistent, I think, has been the biggest thing, consistently catching balls and just being where the quarterback needs me,” Cribbs said. “They’re going to put me in a position to make plays and it’s up to me to make that play.”
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