Sometime this season, Tim Brown figures to become the top punt returner in Raider history.
Rocket or no Rocket.
The Raiders paid $3 million to acquire receiver/returner Rocket Ismail, who has spent a frustrating month trying to get off the launching pad. Sidelined first because of his unfamiliarity with the offense and then because of a strained back muscle, Ismail has yet to play.
But even when he does, Raider Coach Art Shell indicated he will stick with Brown on punt returns, limiting Ismail to kickoffs and receiving.
Brown, in his sixth season, is closing in on the totals of Neal Colzie, the team’s career punt-return leader. Brown has returned 158 punts (10 fewer than Colzie) for 1,563 yards (184 fewer than Colzie).
Ismail, who worked out daily at home in Pennsylvania while negotiations continued all summer on his first Raider contract, isn’t sure how he injured his back.
“I really don’t know,” he said. “It’s the first time for me as far as having an injury like this.” Shell expects Ismail to be ready Sunday when the Raiders play the Chiefs in Kansas City.
He will also have had five weeks to learn the offense.
But he won’t learn until later this week whether he will finally be activated.