While it was always assumed that DeSean Jackson would reprise his role as the Eagles primary punt returner, there was some suspense as to who would return kickoffs. Ellis Hobbs certainly has the most NFL KR experience and is the most proven, but after being injured last year and being counted on as a starting CB this year there was always the chance that the Eagles may look elsewhere. Since no one else has stepped up to take the role, Andy Reid said the job is Hobbs'
"Well, [Jackson] loves that part of it. Both he and [CB Ellis] Hobbs enjoy doing the return stuff. I've kind of held Hobbs out and given [S Quintin Demps] an opportunity back there to do something, and [WR] Chad [Hall] an opportunity. But, both of them enjoy that part of the game, so I'll probably end up letting both of them do that.
The logic is fairly simple and hard to argue. You've got the guy who was probably the best punt returner in the league last year and you've got a guy who led the AFC in KR average just two seasons ago. They're putting the ball in the most dangerous hands they've got. The news obviously makes special teams coach Bobby April happy.
"Well, those two guys are very good, so I was hoping that's what would happen. I think they're our best two guys, at least as this point. You've heard me say a bunch of times, you like to get the ball in the best players' hands. That usually gives you the greatest chance to win."
Some fans have expressed concern that putting your starters, especially one as valuable as Jackson might not be wort the the risk. Personally, I don't understand that logic. There's only 16 games in an NFL season(for now), you can't afford to not go all out to win every single one. If you aren't letting your best punt returner return punts then you aren't going all out to win. DeSean Jackson has game changing ability as a return man, if the Eagles lose a close game he might have been able to influence with a big return, then the fact that he may stayed healthy isn't going to mean much.
Bobby April acknowledges these concerns, but also says you've got to put your best players on the field.
There's other considerations and that's a tough decision for him, real tough decision for him, because those guys are valuable, and 60 other plays. So, it's a tough decision, but it's a commitment to have the best players on the field and there may still be some adjustments, some guys can rise up and maybe play as good or maybe play better, I don't know if we have anybody that can play better, but if we would or could we would be better at that position."
My guess is that one day, which could end up being this year, Jackson will start to be used in the way Brian Westbrook was when he became the feature back. He didn't return every punt, but if the team was down or the opposition was kicking from deep in their own half, he'd be sent out to see if he could make some magic happen.