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Contenders for Michigan’s kick returner duties named, while kicking battle still undecided

As many as seven players are in the mix to return kicks this season.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Football is putting its finishing touches on preparations for the start of the 2019 season with a few key spots still to be decided. Some of them may drag into the regular season, including the kick return duties, which Michigan assistant Chris Partridge said on Wednesday is still open for business heading into the opener.

In fact, as many as seven players are still vying for time back there.

“The (kick) returner is one I’d say is open, for the most part,” Partridge said. “And again, you don’t have to use one guy if you have some really good guys. I like Ronnie Bell, Mikey Sainristil, Giles Jackson, Mike Barrett, Daxton Hill, Christian Turner. All those guys are rotating back there and doing a really good job. Ambry Thomas is now coming back, at some point will get in the mix there. So there’s a bunch of guys that could help us there.”

Punter returner is a lot less fluid with Donovan Peoples-Jones set to retain his duties there, but there are a few other players who have been getting work there, as well.

“No, punt returners is really... Donovan Peoples-Jones is the returner,” Partridge said. “He’s done it for two years. Mike Sainristil and Ronnie Bell are working back there, and Lavert Hill is working back there. I’d say those four are the guys working back there as punt returners.”

Another special teams role that is still up in the air is between Jake Moody and Quinn Nordin as the team’s field goal and extra point kicker. Nordin struggled to make the easy ones last season and was replaced by Moody, but Partridge said that both players have been going back and forth throughout the offseason and have played really well. That battle is to be determined, but he did not rule out the possibility of both guys playing.

Here is more from Partridge’s session with the media on Wednesday:

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