Todd Graham made a bit of a surprise move by using Ray Graham as a kick returner in practice this week. The latter is supposed to be one of Pitt’s biggest offensive weapons this season and it’s a bit odd that the coach would consider using him in kickoff plays where the chance for a big hit and/or injury exists. Todd Graham, though, has his reasons:
*Practice started with kick return practice and the notable appearance of Ray Graham (below) awaiting the kicks and returning them. It woul(d) certainly be a risky move to put one of their top offensive weapons on kick return, but Todd Graham didn’t seem too worried and kind of dodged a question about it after practice when he said, “If he’s the best one he’ll return them.”
I’m not sure I’d agree with that assessment. Even if Graham is theoretically the best fit there, unless he’s likely to break off a bunch of big returns (which I don’t see), is it really worth the risk of leaving him out there to be injured? Sure, injuries can occur at any point in the game, but the more he’s out on kickoffs, the greater the chance exists he could get hurt.
Unless Pitt has no one capable of holding onto the ball in returning kicks, I’d keep Graham only in the backfield.
UPDATE: The Post-Gazette reports that Graham was back out there again this weekend, so it's looking more likely that he could see some time in the position.