Eagles Looking To Scale Back DeSean Jackson's Punt Return Duties

Jun 14, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) is interviewed after practice during mini camp at the Philadelphia Eagles NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

When DeSean Jackson broke into the NFL, he soon proved himself as one of the most dangerous punt returners in the leauge. Problem is, he also started to become more and more valuable on offense as a WR as well.

As he became more and more relied upon as a receiver, the Eagles used him less and less as a return man. Special teams coach Bobby April said today that he expects to have DeSean returning punts even less than he has in the past two years.

Keeping DeSean fresh for the offense is more important than using him on returns.

"We want to use (Jackson) offensively as a weapon. There's some wear and tear on a guy his size. (The risk of) injury. Just the amount of running he does.," explained April. "He doesn't do a lot of three-step hitch. He is running and stretching the field. And for [QB Michael Vick] to get coordinated with all of that, Desean's got a lot invested in keeping his legs replenished."

But of course, any time you don't send out DeSean Jackson to return a punt is one where you're not taking your best shot at something big happening, because as April points out... no one else here is as good as him.

"Someone has to step up but right now no one is as good as he is."

So the goal in this camp isn't to find someone that can take punts when DeSean can't... it's to find a new punt returner. I suspect that we may still see DeSean in certain big spots, but if someone can prove capable over this next month, they're going to handle the lion's share of the punt returns this season.

The two most likely candidates to replace DeSean just might both be rookies. Brandon Boykin was an excellent kickoff returner at Georgia, but didn't handle a lot of the punt return duties. The other is undrafted free agent out of Oregon, Cliff Harris, who was an excellent punt returner in college. In fact, April says he's reminded of Jackson when watching Harris' tape.

"He's a phenomenal punt returner," said April. "He's very much like DeSean, he really is. He reminds me of DeSean when I watched DeSean at Cal. Really, really explosive. Once they get going, they can pull away. We really want to see him in the preseason. We're going to give him a chance to make the team. And make it as a punt returner."

It should be fun to see in Lehigh and then preseason over the next month or two.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bleeding Green Nation

You must be a member of Bleeding Green Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bleeding Green Nation. You should read them.

Join Bleeding Green Nation

You must be a member of Bleeding Green Nation to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bleeding Green Nation. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker