One obvious threat the Eagles will face in this game that they really haven't yet this season is the dynamic return ability of Devin Hester. Bobby April met the media today and obviously Hester was the main topic of conversation.
April noted that the special teams unit has to be alert on at all times on kickoffs because Hester will try to return almost anything.
"Yes. I mean, if something gets away from him or he mishandles it or doesn't field it clean; I've seen touchbacks against his that haven't just gone out of the back of the end zone, but it's mainly because he hasn't handled it. He'll handle it nine yards - and that's as deep as you can go- so he'll bring them out unless he mishandles it or it kind of get past him. But he's not fielding it and taking a knee."
"Yeah, that's a good question because he hasn't punted a lot in this league and he is growing a lot as a punter. [In fact], he's not close to what his true potential is, and it generally takes a while for those guys to get there. We expect him to do the job of taking him away. I mean, we have full expectation that he can live up to everything we ask him to do. So we have confidence in him."
It was noted that Hester was punted two twice in the game against the Eagles last year. While April wouldn't talk strategy, he did speak generally about what they did in that game and overall this year.
"Well, last year we punted more than once; one he didn't field [and] one, was it nine yards? You know, we just did sort of a normal punt and tried to hang the ball up and tried cover it. You know to steal from [Houston Texans defensive coordinator] Wade Phillips - you don't want to get beat by a bomb but you don't want to get killed by a bunch of hand grenades either. So every time you give up a first down, or a couple of first downs in field position on the punt or the kickoff coverage because you kept it out of his hands, then you generally had to do something to bring the ball closer to your goal line. So it's a fine mix in there and we'll have a strategy, obviously, on how we're going to do it either in coverage or kicking or whatever. But yeah, he's a definite challenge that you have to really do a good job. I kind of elected to say that we really have to do a good job this week because we're going to try to do just as good of a job this week as we did against [Rams WR] Danny Amendola. I wasn't trying any harder [against Hester] I don't think. I wouldn't want to give you the impression, ‘Oh we're really going to try this week and we might ease of a little bit this week' or ‘two weeks ago we didn't try that hard or work that hard.' I mean, they're all tough to tackle in space and at any moment any of those guys can break it. But obviously, this guy's percentage is way up there. But in terms of us going down there I think we're always trying our best to stop them."