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10 Things to Watch: The Battle at Kickoff Returner

We'll reveal our top 10 things to watch for at training camp each day leading up to the first practice on July 30.

Who Wins the Battle to Return Kickoffs?

Travis Benjamin is seemingly locked in as the team's number one punt returner.

However, who returns kickoffs is still very much in the air, and it may be the most wide open battle entering training camp.  With new rules in place that some believe will encourage teams to place kickoffs short of the end zone instead of going for a touchback, returners may have more opportunities to bring kicks back in 2016 than recent seasons.

So who are the candidates to watch when you attend practice?

In addition to his duties returning punts, Benjamin will get a look at kickoffs as well.  He has returned 18 over his four year career, averaging 26.0 yards per return including an 86-yarder in 2013. The speedster isn't the only WR in the running for KR though as Javontee Herndon, Isaiah Burse and DeAndre Reaves look to make a case as well. 

Herndon handled kickoffs following his promotion from the practice squad midway through 2015.  He returned seven for 157 yards, averaging 22.4 yards per return with a long of 34.  Burse handled punt return duties for the Denver Broncos before arriving in San Diego, but excelled on kickoffs in college, returning 126 kickoffs for 2,835 yards (22.5) over four years at Fresno State.  Meanwhile, Reaves is an undrafted free agent who made a name for himself as one of the best kickoff returners in the nation.  The reigning Conference USA Special Teams Player of Year was a first-team all-conference kick returner last year.  He set Marshall school records for career kickoff return yards (2,548) and average (27.7) with three touchdowns in 92 returns over four years.

The Chargers also have a pair of running backs in the mix as well.  Danny Woodhead has the most experience on the team, averaging 21.7 yards on 35 returns for the Bolts, Jets and Patriots.  On the other hand, Branden Oliver has averaged 24.3 yards on nine career returns over his first two seasons. 

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