Eagles have options to return kicks and punts

It wasn't through free agency, but a trade that the Eagles made a splash Thursday morning. Credit: Getty Images
Darren Sproles will likely be the No. 1 return man this season for the Eagles. Credit: Getty Images

The Eagles, in losing DeSean Jackson, lot a secret weapon on punt returns. Who can forget the “Miracle at the Meadowlands,” or the multitude of other times he was able to jumpstart the offense with an electric return?

This year, though it’s early, the Eagles seem to have a player just as dynamic in Darren Sproles. They also have a bevy of other return options who could provide a pretty big boost to the Eagles special teams unit. But Chip Kelly hasn’t really given kick and punt returns much thought yet.

“I think it’s a difficult time in a lot of these evaluations in the spring because there’s no contact,” Kelly said. “You really can’t get in front of people and do things.”

Sproles had two kickoff returns for scores as a Charger, and three punt return touchdowns, one with the Saints and the other two in San Diego. On the kickoff front, the short speedster amassed 20 yards on 238 of 328 kickoff returns in the NFL.

“It’s just getting fundamental reps of guys back there fielding balls,” Kelly said. “But who it’s going to end up being or where it is, Darren is the one proven commodity that has had a lot of success in the league doing it.”

The Birds have two rookie wideouts in Josh Huff and Jordan Matthews, each had reps returning balls in college, giving the Eagles some special teams depth.

“[I am] anxious to take a look at two of the young kids, Josh Huff returned kickoffs in college and Jordan Matthews [who] returned punts in college. So get a chance to take a look at those guys and add them into the mix with some of the other guys we have active. Damaris [Johnson] and Jeff Maehl have returned kicks before. We have always tried to get [Riley Cooper] back there.”


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