Copyright 2007 PewterReport.com

In this week’s Bucs Shots, Pewter Report editor-in-chief Jim Flynn sounds off on message board Cadillac 24’s take on the New Orleans Saints recently releasing kick returner Michael “Beer Man” Lewis and the possibility of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signing him before the start of training camp.

Another Option At KR For The Bucs – Posted On June 15, 2007 by Cadillac 24

The Saints released their kick returner, Michael Lewis. Lewis was a beer truck driver before the Saints signed him to be their kick returner.

Although Lewis is 35 years old, I wouldn’t mind the Bucs bringing him in for a visit because we do need help at kick returner. Lewis is a great kick and punt returner. He’s scored four touchdowns off of returns during his seven-year career.

Lewis might be past his prime, but he would be a good option for the Bucs and we could get him for the veteran league minimum. I don’t know too much about him, but do you think the Bucs should consider signing Lewis?

Jim Flynn’s response to Cadillac 24’s post

I don’t blame you for being intrigued by former Saints kick returner/wide receiver Michael Lewis. He has certainly been productive at the NFL level.

While he was never able to make a name for himself as a wide receiver, evidenced by his 28 career catches, Lewis certainly made a name for himself as a return specialist.

Lewis has averaged 24.3 yards per kickoff return since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2001. The former beer truck driver had 17 kickoff returns go 40-plus yards, three of which he returned for touchdowns.

The 5-foot-8, 173-pound Lewis has also been dangerous on punt returns. He averaged 10.4 yards per return during his eight seasons with the Saints. Seventeen of Lewis’ punt returns went 20-plus yards, and he had an 83-yard punt return result in a touchdown.

Tampa Bay could use a return specialist with Lewis’ credentials. Last season, the Bucs ranked 30th in punt returns (6.5 avg.) and 25th in kickoff returns (21.5 avg.). As a result, the Bucs had an average starting field position of the 26.3-yard line.

Of course, the Bucs have also never returned a kickoff for a touchdown in their 31-year history. That’s 1,825 kickoff returns without a score to be exact.

The Bucs plan to give several players, including cornerback Torrie Cox, running backs Michael Pittman and running back Earnest Graham, wide receivers Mark Jones and Chad Owens and cornerback Phillip Buchanon the opportunity to solidify the team’s kickoff return job.

A few players, including WR Ike Hilliard, Jones, Buchanon and Owens, will also audition for the right to earn punt return responsibilities.

Perhaps one of the more interesting things that has come out of Tampa Bay’s organized team activities this offseason is the fact that both Bucs WR David Boston and RB Carnell “Cadillac” Williams have been fielding some punts and kickoffs.

No one knows which player will emerge as Tampa Bay’s starting kickoff and punt returner. But we do know that it is unlikely that the Buccaneers will attempt to sign Lewis.

It appears as though age has caught up to the 36-year old Lewis, who has played in just 12 games over the past two seasons due to injuries. He’s also averaged just 2.0 and 6.9 yards per punt return over the past two years, respectively.

However, if Tampa Bay’s return specialists struggle out of the gate, there’s always the possibility the Buccaneers could sign Lewis during the regular season as long as he hasn’t already been signed by another team by then.

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