Tom Zbikowski was the Ravens' first-team punt returner throughout training camp and the preseason, and he performed well, averaging 11.5 yards per return.
But now that the Ravens have improved their depth at cornerback by adding Josh Wilson in a trade with the Seahawks, Chris Carr might be freed up to get back into the punt return mix.
Carr was the Ravens' punt returner last season, taking back 32 punts for an 8.2-yard average with a long of 34 yards, but the team didn't use him in that role during camp because of the risk of losing another cornerback to injury.
So who will get the call on Monday night when the Jets trot out their punting unit? The Ravens are being tight-lipped about who they'll turn to, but special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg discussed his thinking on the matter today.
"The good thing about our football team is we have a lot of guys who can do that job," Rosburg said. "It's always been my belief that that's a positive thing in your program. There are situations where some teams have a returner and that's all he does is be the returner, and he doesn't help your other special teams, he doesn't help your offense or defense.
"We happen to have returners who are football players. So it helps the rest of our team, and also gives us depth at that position. We have Zibby, we have Chris, we have others, as a matter of fact, to develop. We look at it as a strength."
An important factor to consider is that Zbikowski is the Ravens' starting free safety while Ed Reed is sidelined with a hip injury, while Carr plays in a reserve role.
Could the Ravens be reluctant to put one of their starters back to return kicks for fear of him getting injured?
"My view on that is every play in a football game is a football play," Rosburg said. "So whether it's a defensive play, an offensive play or a special teams play, they're all football plays. Our guys look at it the same way, and our staff looks at it the same way.
"Certainly, we're mindful of the depth chart, meaning if we have only one or two guys who can do a specific task for us on offense or defense, we don't want to put them out there just because of the repetitions that they might be getting during the game, let alone the risk. But there's an inherent risk in football in all football plays. So we don't necessarily look at it [and say], 'Well, we can't put him in there because we can't risk him.' We look at it as a matter of fact of balancing the roster and balancing the weight of the work."
It will be interesting to see how the coaches opt to play this one. I think Zbikowski has a little more big-play ability than Carr, and he's definitely tougher to bring down. But the fact that Zbikowski will be counted on to play such a big role in the secondary with Reed out could lead the Ravens to use Carr as their returner.
We shall see.