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2015 NFL training camp: Blocking, aggressiveness key in return game improvement

Bruce Arians wants someone who isn't always looking for the home run play.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals were terrible in the return game last season. They were dead last in kickoff returns and, with the exception of one Tedd Ginn punt return touchdown, the punt return game was pretty lackluster.

So what needs to improve this season?

Head coach Bruce Arians discussed it on Sunday after the team's morning walk-through.

"We've got to do a better job of blocking and we've got to get somebody who's just going to pound it, get it out, get it past the 20," he said. "Quit looking for a home run and just get it past the 20 and good things will happen."

The Cards have a few players in the mix for kick returns. We haven't seen any work with kickoff returns, but rookie J.J. Nelson figures to be in the mix, as well as David Johnson, John Brown, Kerwynn Williams, Brittan Golden and Jaxon Shipley.

Those same guys will probably get looked at for punt returns.

Arians said the issue with punt returns is similar to that of kick returns.

"We've got to do a better job of blocking the gunners, especially when we single them," he explained. "Justin Bethel does a heck of a job and we've got enough good corners who should be able to do the other side.

"And again, take the ball and get it north."

At the start of practices, we have seen both Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu field a few punts. That prompted the question of whether Peterson will be back there again to return punts like he did his firs three seasons.

Arians downplayed it, saying "we know what he can do." He said Peterson doesn't need to practice it other than catching a few before practice. It sounded like it wouldn't happen.

Getting something out of the return game would be nice. It was mostly worthless in 2014. It is something to watch in camp and the preseason to see if there is improvement.