DeMarcus Van Dyke to get shot at returning punts

ALAMEDA -- It's no mystery the Raiders' punt return game has struggled mightily in the preseason, with the trio of Jacoby Ford, Bryan McCann and DeAundre Muhammad combining to average a mere 4.4 yards per return.

So it was no surprise, then, to see speedy cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke fielding punts following practice Monday. The Raiders have to mix it up, right? Especially with Ford still out with a sore left foot and Muhammad cut earlier in the day.

"Potentially, (we'll) see how he looks in practice this week," said coach Dennis Allen, when asked if Van Dyke could return punts against Seattle in both teams' exhibition finale Thursday.

"Obviously we're looking to see who's going to fulfill that role for us. We'll explore whatever's out there."

Van Dyke said he last returned punts as a freshman at Miami and, before that, in high school.

Doing it in the NFL, albeit in an exhibition game, represents a quantum leap of a difference. And sitting there, waiting for the ball to drop from the sky while an entire team barrels down on you, is completely different from the loneliness of being a cornerback out on the edge with just one receiver to worry about.

"Imagine 11 angry men, all running down at full speed, trying to take you head off," Van Dyke said with a nervous smile.

That is where Van Dyke's speed -- he was the fastest man at the Combine in 2011 -- would come into play, so long as he fields the ball cleanly. And it might even help with his confidence as a cornerback.

"Having the ball in my hands could help me get going, give me that swagger," he said.

"It's going to interesting, so I"m pretty excited about Thursday."

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