Perhaps forgotten in the analysis of the Philadelphia Eagles roster cuts down to the 53-man limit this past weekend was the fact that it wasn't clear who on the team would actually be returning punts and kickoffs. While that's not necessarily a huge deal, it's often noted how much head coach Chip Kelly values special teams.
The only two Eagles players used on punts (Damaris Johnson, Kenjon Barner) were waived. Three of the four players returning kicks (Johnson, Barner, Henry Josey, Josh Huff) for the Eagles were also waived. The only remaining returner is Huff, the third round rookie who is dealing with a shoulder injury (AC sprain) and may not be ready in time for Philadelphia's season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Huff did not participate in the team's practice on Tuesday and has been out since mid-August.
So with the returner picture unclear, members of the media questioned Chip Kelly about the subject during his Tuesday press conference. It turns out that free agent signing cornerback Nolan Carroll II, who just so happens to be listed as the kick return on the team's (meaningless) depth chart, will be handling kicks if Huff cannot play. Veteran wide receiver Brad Smith is also reportedly in the mix, as is veteran running back Darren Sproles and slot cornerback Brandon Boykin.
It's an interesting choice because Carroll II hasn't returned a kickoff since 2010. As a rookie with the Miami Dolphins, Carroll II attempted 27 returns for a total of 655 yards (24.3 average). Solid, but far from spectacular. Smith, who owns a career average of 25.7 yards on 111 returns, might be the better option.
Kelly didn't seem to indicate who would return punts. I imagine Sproles might get some looks there. He returned 19 punts for 194 yards (6.7 average) in 2013.
In any case, it looks like another year where the return units will be below average in Philadelphia, which hardly seems new. The Eagles ranked 27th in punt return average and 26th in kickoff return average in 2013.