Considered by many to be one of the best return specialist to ever grace the gridiron, Josh Cribbs signed with the Oakland Raiders this offseason to handle kick return duties. Considering the team’s young receiver corps, though, Cribbs could potentially carve a role for himself as an offensive weapon as well.
During his days with the Cleveland Browns, Cribbs was never a very effective pass-catcher. He struggled with the intricacies of playing wide receiver, a big part of why it took so long for him to become a significant part of the Browns’ passing game.
Throughout his eight-year NFL career, Cribbs has managed to break the 200-yard mark twice – first in 2010 (292) and second in 2011 (518). The main reason he recently became a significant part of the Cleveland passing attack, though, was because of their lack of capable targets for their quarterbacks to throw to.
Now with the Raiders, Cribbs will have an even tougher time becoming a part of the Oakland passing attack during training camp. With receivers like Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Jacoby Ford and Juron Criner on the roster, the Raiders simply don’t need Cribbs to play significant snaps on offense. They might package him in as a way of utilizing his speed and elusiveness, but don’t expect him to see more than a handful of targets throughout the year.
If injuries begin piling up out wide, Cribbs could find himself in the mix for some offensive work. Seeing as Moore, Streater and Criner are all fairly durable, though, it’s a longshot.
When the Raiders signed Cribbs to a one-year deal, it was assumed that he’d find a way to contribute. If all he has to offer is kick returning abilities – Phillip Adams should hold on to punt return duties – Cribbs could be out of job by the time the regular season rolls around.
We’ll see during training camp if Cribbs can prove to be a valuable offensive asset. Unless the Raiders’ current crop of receivers underwhelms early, the veteran returner will remain a one-dimensional weapon.