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CeeDee Lamb: Done Returning Punts for Cowboys?

Why is Dallas is thinking of dumping Lamb as the No. 1 punt returner?

FRISCO - There is really no statistical evidence that a "good'' punt returner makes a substantial difference in a team's wins or losses. The Dallas Cowboys consider CeeDee Lamb to be something substantially better than "good,'' and yet he and the Cowboys in 2021 ranked in the NFL basement in the category.

So is that why Dallas is thinking of dumping Lamb as the No. 1 punt returner?

Oddly, no.

"It's definitely something we've got to get answered," head coach Mike McCarthy said of who will be the top return man in 2022, but the reasoning isn't about how overrated the punt return is.

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The reason is that Lamb is moving into the No. 1 receiver role, replacing the traded-away Amari Cooper. And wisely, the Cowboys recognize that that job is almost infinitely more important than who is in charge of fair catches, returns called back on penalties and one (one!) return of longer than 20 yards.

They haven't pulled Lamb off the field on special-teams just yet. And with Ced Wilson gone via free agency, they don't have him as a convenient answer.

So it is quite possible the Cowboys will have a new featured punt returner this season.

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Can cornerbacks Trevon Diggs do it? Sure, but if the idea is to take some burden off a heavy lifter who is a full-time player, well, the same rule that would apply to Lamb should apply to Diggs. Nahshon Wright was involved last year; is he any sort of a threat with the ball in his hands? James Washington hasn't a history of doing so. Tony Pollard is made to return kicks but not punts.

It's not a major hole, because - as we'll keep arguing, it's not an impact position - but it's a hole. Dallas needs somebody who can at least field the ball safety, and injury risks aside, it's a waste of Lamb and Diggs' time to ask them to do it.

"We'll look at the guys who have done it,'' McCarthy said, paraphrasing COO Stephen Jones. "It's so true: player acquisition never stops."

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