The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could return from their bye week with a new look in the kick return department for the final quarter of the regular season.
On Monday, the Buccaneers promoted running back Kenjon Barner, signing him to their 53-man roster off of their practice squad. To make room for Barner on the active roster, the team waived wide receiver Jaydon Mickens.
Mickens handled nearly all of the Buccaneers punt and kickoff returns for the first nine games of the season but then spent the next three weeks on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He was activated from that list last Monday at the beginning of the Bucs' bye week. While he was unavailable, Tampa Bay used a number of different players in the return game, including Barner, who was elevated from the practice squad in Week 11 and had one kickoff return for 24 yards and three punt returns for 19 yards against the Los Angeles Rams.
Barner also played in two games in the first month of the season after being elevated from the practice squad and had one kickoff return for 33 yards against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week Four. He has also played for Carolina, Philadelphia and New England and has extensive experience in the return game. Last season, he handled the majority of the Falcons return work, with 35 punt returns for 267 yards and one touchdown and 17 kickoff returns for another 406 yards.
In his career, Barner has returned 75 punts for 574 yards (7.7-yard average) and 50 kickoffs for 1,181 yards (23.6-yard average). He has also run the ball 100 times for 416 yards and three touchdowns and caught 28 passes for 152 yards. Most of his contributions on offense came with the Eagles during the 2015-17 seasons.
Before landing on the COVID list, Mickens returned 15 punts for 99 yards (6.6-yard average) with 12 fair catches and ran back 12 kickoffs for 289 yards (24.1-yard average). He had a long return of 14 yards on punts and 34 yards on kickoffs.