Few personnel secrets exist on playoff-bound teams around the NFL in the final week of the regular season.
Maybe that is why Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has gotten a kick out of his answers to questions surrounding his new punt returner.
He is not telling.
Asked Friday whether he had narrowed his selection to replace injured Tyler Lockett, Carroll scanned the press corps and calmly said, “Yes.”
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The only player on the active Seahawks roster to return punts in his career is cornerback Richard Sherman. By all accounts, Carroll would rather use the All-Pro defensive back as a last resort.
So who could it be come Sunday when Seattle faces San Franciso in the regular-season finale?
Remember two names — one new (J.D. McKissic) and one familiar (Kasen Williams).
McKissic, an undrafted rookie out of Arkansas State, was claimed off waivers Dec. 20 from Atlanta. At 5-foot-10, 187 pounds, he is nearly the same build as Lockett (5-10, 182), and he is fast and shifty as well.
But even though he was mainly a wide receiver in college, where he holds four school receiving records, the Seahawks see McKissic as a running back.
And more importantly, he has always been heavily involved in special teams returns.
“I did both,” McKissic said. “I was a punt returner my sophomore year and a kickoff returner from sophomore to senior year. I am pretty comfortable with both.”
McKissic has made more of an impact as a kickoff retuner. His 211 return yards is a Arkansas State single-game record, and his 1,473 career kickoff yards rank fifth in school history.
On his first touch of the Falcons’ preseason, McKissic took back a kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown.
When he joined the Seahawks last week, McKissic was immediately asked to show what he could do in both return phases in front of coaches.
“Tyler was a great player. I know guys on the team wish he was still here,” McKissic said. “I am going to come in and prepare ... and whatever role they have for me, I’ll do the best that I can.”
If the Seahawks opt for a sure-handed returner, Williams very well could be the guy.
At 6-1, 219 pounds, he doesn’t have the jerky cutback moves and swift jets to be the ideal replacement, but he twice led the University of Washington in punt returns — in 2011 (15 returns) and 2015 (five returns).
When Lockett was officially placed on injured reserve Monday, Williams was added to the active roster as the team’s fifth receiver. He has been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury all year.
“I am ready for any position — special teams, offense, it does not matter,” Williams said. “Give me every play, and I will be in there.”
Williams knows McKissic is also a viable option as well: “He is a solid player, a solid returner. But I want to put my name in the mix.”
Fellow receiver Paul Richardson appears to be Lockett’s replacement as a kickoff returner.