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Falcons like their options at returner as competition heats up 

Special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica provided some input on one of the few unanswered questions regarding the Atlanta Falcons starting lineup.

Who is the leader in the clubhouse at kick and punt returner?


Kotwica says the battle is currently between three players: Brandon Powell, Olamide Zaccheaus and Chris Rowland.

"We've got some options there it will be interesting to see how it plays out but we think we're improving in that area of the game," Kotwica said.

The Falcons opted not to re-sign Kenjon Barner who returned 35 punts for 267 yards and 17 kicks for 406 yards in the 2019 season.

Powell, 23, spent last season on the Falcons' roster but didn't see any game action. Following his career at Florida, Powell signed with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and played in six games.

Zaccheaus, 22, saw action in 10 games in his rookie season after signing with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia in 2019. The speedy wide receiver caught three passes for 115 yards and a touchdown, including a 93-yard touchdown to help the Falcons defeat the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 8.

Rowland, 22, signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent this year after an accomplished career at Tennessee State. The wide receiver returned 46 punts for 543 yards and one touchdown and 74 kicks for 1,689 yards and a touchdown.

Kotwica said Powell and Rowland have filmed themselves catching punts and sent the videos to him for feedback.

With no set date as to when the players and coaches will be able to take the practice fields together, Kotwica believes the urgency to make the decision when the time is right will be there. Above anything, Kotwica said how his returner takes care of the ball is the most important skillset at the position.

"The first and foremost thing is ball security," Kotwica said. "And then short area quickness, dynamic ability, those are the other skillsets that we'll be looking for as the preseason gets underway."

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