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Could receiver Taylor Gabriel also be the Falcons' punt returner in 2017 season?

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – In his first season in Atlanta, Taylor Gabriel surprised many and showed the type of threat he can be as a receiver.

His blazing speed proved to be an X-factor for the Falcons throughout the 2016 season – the speedy receiver hauled in 35 passes for 579 yards and six touchdowns.

Now, he'll get a chance to show off his skills as a punt returner, coach Dan Quinn said on Friday.

Gabriel returned punts during the special teams portion of practice, alongside wide receiver Andre Roberts and a few others.

Quinn is all about finding new ways to feature his players helping bring out their strengths, so it's no surprise he's giving Gabriel the opportunity to return punts.

"That's one of the jobs we can look at and it creates more touches," Quinn said. "So if that's an opportunity to get more touches for him, it's something we definitely want to look at."

Not only can Gabriel flat-out fly down the field, he possesses the lateral quickness needed at this position.

Gabriel does have experience returning punts. The receiver took on this role during his time at Abilene Christian University and during last year's preseason when he was with the Cleveland Browns.

So is Gabriel excited about the opportunity to add to his role as a Falcon? The answer is yes, because it could help his team.

"Just being helpful to the team," Gabriel said. "If I can go back there and make a big play for the team, I feel like if I have the opportunity I need to advantage of it. I'm [the] type of guy to take advantage of every opportunity. If Q wants me to go back there and be a D-linemen and rush and try and make a sack, I'll do that for my brothers."

The Falcons' kick/punt returner is certainly one position battle to keep an eye on through training camp and the preseason.

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