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Steelers RB Jaylen Warren: ST coach said Justin Fields could be kick return option

The Pittsburgh Steelers are exploring every option to get one of their most gifted players, quarterback Justin Fields, onto the field in 2024.

That includes special teams, apparently.

In an appearance on Cam Heyward's Not Just Football podcast, Steelers running back Jaylen Warren revealed Steelers special teams coordinator Danny Smith tossed out the idea of using Fields as a kick returner within the NFL's new kickoff format in 2024.

The idea, according to Warren, is that Fields could be a valuable weapon under the new setup, which prevents players from moving until a returner touches the ball (or the ball touches the ground).

"I think it's pretty good," Warren said of the new format, per ESPN. "As soon as you touch the ball, that's when everything starts to happen.

"Our special teams coordinator was talking about Justin Fields being back there. We're like, 'Hold up, hold up.' We looked at him like, 'Justin Fields is about to be back there?' I don't know. I think it's cool."

This is, frankly, an insane idea. Sure, Fields is an incredible athlete who has proven to be very capable of ripping off explosive plays with his legs, so much that some saw him more as a runner than a proper quarterback during his final couple of years in Chicago. But a read option or a scramble is vastly different than a kickoff -- at least, as we've come to know it.

Even if the rule changes turn the kickoff into something much more similar to a standard offensive play than the traditional high-speed clashes of battlefield chaos, throwing the backup quarterback out there to be subjected to hits is, at minimum, an unnecessary risk. More realistically, it's willfully negligent. And with the addition of Cordarrelle Patterson to a roster than already includes Calvin Austin, there simply isn't a need to even consider tossing a quarterback back there as a returner.

It's May. These little nuggets of info drive traffic online, and with the 2024 NFL Draft now in the rearview mirror, the beast needs feeding. But don't take this as much more than a wacky idea floated in a spring meeting. Hopefully Smith prefaced it with "call me crazy, but ..." because it is exactly that: crazy.

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