Eagles Special Teams Coordinator Teases ‘Explosive’ Kick Return Unit

Boston Scott

Getty Eagles RB Boston Scott accumulated 156 all-purpose yards on Monday night versus New York.

The Eagles have always put a premium on special teams and speedy return men (see: DeSean Jackson, circa 2010) has been at the forefront of that dedicated unit.

Miles Sanders did the bulk of the kick returning for Philadelphia in 2019. The Penn State product returned 14 kickoffs for 314 yards, 22.4 yards per return with a long of 67 yards. But Sanders will be too valuable to put back there as he enters 2020 entrenched as the feature back. Meanwhile, Darren Sproles and Boston Scott split the punt-returning duties but Sproles retired after last season and Scott might have a larger role on offense in 2020.

Enter Jalen Reagor. The Eagles’ first-round draft pick was a lethal return man at Texas Christian where he reeled off 15 punt returns for 312 yards, including two returns for touchdowns as a senior. He’s downright electric with the ball in his hands and Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp was understandably giddy when talking about his new toy.

“Jalen’s obviously a really explosive player,” said Fipp. “When the ball is in his hands, he’s electric. He made a lot happen. Had a huge average in college. When he’s out in space, he can make guys miss. He’s quick. He does a good job catching the ball, so I’m definitely excited about him.”

How much of a role Reagor will have on special teams may not be up to Fipp, though. The rookie is hoping to steal snaps on offense and possibly land a starting role. The Eagles will have to balance Reagor’s usage in all phases.

“We’ll kind of balance all that stuff with what his role is on offense,” Fipp told reporters. “Obviously, I think that’s an evolving situation there, so we’re just going to have to monitor that and how much we try to ask of him and use him.”

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‘All Kinds of Options’ on Kickoff Returns

Reagor isn’t the only option on returns, not by a long shot. Fellow rookies Quez Watkins and John Hightower are burners who manned that role in college and the 40 times to match: Watkins at 4.35 seconds, Hightower at 4.43 seconds.

“Oh gosh, man, we got all kinds of options right there now,” said Fipp. “Everyone wants to be a returner. We’re meeting with those rookies right now and they’ve all done it and they’ve all been really good at it. We definitely have a lot to work with, so we’re definitely excited about that.”

Fipp is a realist when it comes to Sanders’ role, too. He’s not blind to the fact that head coach Doug Pederson probably won’t want to risk injuring his starting running back on a special teams play. Those rules apply to DeSean Jackson, too, especially since the veteran receiver is returning from core muscle surgery.

“I would say, I guess,” said Fipp on not having Sanders at his disposal in 2020. “Projecting Miles might have a little bit of a bigger role on offense obviously at this point in time but we’ll see how everything plays out. I would say, if that’s the case, then we would probably see him less on kickoff return, if at all. And then DeSean, I would say is probably a similar situation.”

One other guy to keep an eye on is Corey Clement. The Super Bowl hero is finally healthy and has the experience to handle both kickoff and punt returns for the Eagles. As Fipp stated, the team has all kinds of options.

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