Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp spoke to reporters on Friday morning about the exciting young players who are eager to contribute as returners, as well as the precautions they’re taking and changes they’re making amid the COVID pandemic.
On the return game
“We got all kinds of options there right now.”
Fipp went on to say that Howie Roseman and the scouts always do a great job, but this year, they really gave special teams a lot of options. All the rookies want to be a returner, and they all have experience and are really good at it. They haven’t really gotten out on the field just yet with the jugs machine, but they’re excited about all the potential.
On Jalen Reagor specifically, Fipp is excited about what he can do and his skill set — notable that when he’s out in space he can make guys miss, and he’s quick. Reagor also did some punt return in the past, so there are options with him.
“Jalen’s obviously a really explosive player, When the balls in his hands, he’s electric, made a lot happen [in college].”
But, they’ll have to balance things based on his role in the offense, and that’s something that will continue to evolve throughout camp.
He also talked about being excited for the three young linebackers as well — Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley, Dante Olsen — but overall, the rookie class has a lot of speed and talent, and the coaches just have to get them ready to play in the NFL.
On evaluating talent
“It’s going to be a challenge, obviously, without preseason games.”
They just have to do a good job to put them in situations where they can prove themselves, and put them in a more competitive environment than they’ve done in the past.
The good news too, Fipp explained, that every team is in the same situation, and on the flip-side, when things are different, it’s a little more fun.
On COVID and precautions
“I think for me, for us, I think kind of common sense is the biggest theme.”
There’s definitely an issue going on and they understand the concerns, but they feel good about it as long as they wear their masks and are smart about it outside of the building — they obviously feel very safe inside the building.
Fipp said that there is always a contingency plan, but hasn’t been in any direct conversation with Doug Pederson about it, should he or one of the coaches get sick. For special teams, if Fipp was unavailable, Luke Thompson would be able to come in, and also Matt Harper is on staff and has been Fipp’s assistant for a long time.
The coordinator said that he really enjoyed the virtual offseason, and that it challenged him to find new teaching techniques and ways to reach the players.
- Fipp confirmed that if Miles Sanders has a bigger role in the offense, than it’d make sense for him to have a more limited role on kickoff return, if at all. DeSean Jackson is in a similar situation — they want to put the team in the best position to win, but they also have to be careful and smart on how they utilize players.
- He admitted that he didn’t really watch much of the XFL, and not enough to have an opinion about some of their kickoff rules — but he did watch a kickoff return just to see how they did it.
- Fipp said that when Corey Clement has been healthy, he’s been a big contributor on special teams, and he’s on a bunch of the film they use to teach the young guys. When he’s healthy, he’s a high-level player, and he’s super motivated right now.
- Fipp really talked up Duke Riley, who became the Eagles’ special teams captain for the playoff game after Kamu Grugier-Hill got hurt. Fipp values Riley’s energy and passion.