Welcome to the Spotlight. Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week. Today's player in the spotlight is returner JoJo Natson.
Natson is a 23 year old, 5’ 7”, 159 pound gadget player with good straight line speed and excellent lateral quickness. Natson played his college ball first at Utah State, where in 2013 he was the only FBS player in the country to register multiple touchdowns rushing, receiving and returning. Natson was removed from Utah State due to an incident of alleged misappropriation of scholarship funds allotted to a teammate, and he later played with Akron University. In his college career Natson registered a total of 15 TDs from scrimmage and 5 TDs returning. Natson returned a total of 72 punts for 904 yards, an excellent 12.6 return average.
JoJo Natson was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts. Natson spent the 2017 preseason with the Colts, where he earned a spot on Pro Football Focus’ Week 2 Team Of The Week. The Colts cut Natson prior to the start of the 2017 season and the Jets signed him to the practice squad. When Jeremy Kerley was handed a four game suspension in November the Jets promoted Natson to the 53 man roster, where he has spent the last three weeks as the Jets return man. Natson has flashed a little ability in the return game, but not enough thus far to solidify his spot on the roster. With Kerley due back next week and Lucky Whitehead waiting in the wings on the practice squad, Natson is running out of time to state his case as the Jets long sought answer at the returner spot.
Fortunately for JoJo Natson the Jets will be visiting Denver this week. The Broncos special teams have struggled all year defending opposing returners. The Denver Broncos are one of only two NFL teams to allow a punt return touchdown and a kick return touchdown this year. The Broncos special teams rank 23rd in opponent punt return average and 28th in opponent kick return average. If ever there was a week for JoJo Natson to break out some nice returns, this would appear to be that week.
The Broncos, despite their struggles this season, still field one of the most formidable defenses in the NFL; long drives will likely be few and far between on Sunday. Natson breaking a few returns and setting up the Jets offense with excellent field position may be crucial to the Jets chances of emerging from Mile High Stadium with a victory. If JoJo Natson is unable to shine in the return game this week, with Kerley and Whitehead ready to take his place should he falter, this may be Natson’s last best chance to secure a spot in the Jets long term plans.
JoJo Natson, this is your chance to show us what you’ve got. This is your time in the spotlight. Time to shine and stake your claim as the Jets next top return man.