Coach Mike McCarthy and special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum might want to think long and hard about continuing to use starting defensive lineman and emerging star Mike Daniels on the kick return team. Why? Because being a member of this unit has proven to be hazardous to one’s health in recent years. In the past 13 seasons, four Packers have suffered career-ending injuries while either returning a kick or blocking for one. In 2000, safety Gary Berry collided helmets while blocking. Five years later, wide receiver Terrence Murphy did the same thing while attempting to recover a fumble. In 2007, offensive lineman Tony Palmer suffered a tiny bone fracture in his neck while blocking. And just last season, rookie running back Johnathan Franklin took a big hit while returning only the fourth kick of his career.
Numerous other Packers have suffered less significant but still costly injuries while either returning a kick or blocking for one. Mike Flanagan, Najeh Davenport and Jordy Nelson immediately come to mind. There’s a reason why the league instituted the rule change in 2011 moving kickoffs up to the 35-yard line, resulting in more touchbacks. Commissioner Roger Goodell and the competition committee wanted to make the most dangerous part of the game a little safer. Likewise, there’s a reason why 46 players are active on game days. It’s so coaches don’t have to risk using their best players on special teams. Somebody might want to send McCarthy a memo.