Eagles Address Punting Issue, Add Killer Speed to Kick Returns

Jason Huntley, Jalen Hurts

Getty Jason Huntley gets congratulated by Jalen Hurts after making a play in Week 17 against Washington.

Jason Huntley was a surprise standout at Philadelphia Eagles training camp. He routinely broke loose for big gains on punt and kick returns during individual drills. And his explosiveness was on full display during team drills, including one highlight-reel play that wowed the starting quarterback.

Jalen Hurts came up to Huntley and slapped him high-five after he juked his way into the secondary. The talent and potential have always been there. Now the 2020 fifth-rounder is finally getting an opportunity to suit up in real games. The Eagles elevated Huntley in Week 18 and he took on the lead kick return duties. He took three returns back for 84 yards (28 yards per touch) while breaking off a 35-yarder. Huntley also rushed 13 times for 51 yards versus Dallas.

“I thought Jason did an outstanding job given his opportunity,” special teams coordinator Michael Clay told reporters. “He hit the running lanes very hard, protected the ball in traffic.”

Considering the team’s struggles in that area – Jalen Reagor’s fumbles were getting old – there might be a new sheriff in town. Kenny Gainwell had a crack at it. Now it’s time to see what Huntley can do in a meaningful playoff game if he gets the chance.

“He’s shown ability to return against our kickoff coverage throughout the first 17 weeks,” Clay said. “It’s more to Jason really staying true to himself, and when he had the opportunity, he answered the call right there.”

But Clay wasn’t ready to anoint him the new starter on kickoff returns. The coach went out of his way to praise the blocking on his 35-yarder – Patrick Johnson, Tay Gowan, Tyree Jackson, Richard Rodgers, Mac McCain all got shout-outs – then talked about gameday elevations being done on a case-by-case basis. Perhaps Huntley needs to do more.

“As much as it does take a good return right there, it takes the other 10 to really help and give him that running lane,” Clay said. “And he showed really good quicks in the hole right there to get up the field and give our offense a good starting point there.”

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Rib Injury Limited Huntley’s Preseason

Huntley was fantastic in the preseason opener where he returned one kick 35 yards and another one 30 yards before it was called back due to holding. He was also fluid as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. And out-carried (and out-gained) Kerryon Johnson and Kenny Gainwell.

Unfortunately, Huntley injured his ribs in that game and was waived before joining the practice squad one day later. Head coach Nick Sirianni never forgot those early reps.

“Speed, a lot of speed. I think every time he touches that football, you can see how much speed he has,” Sirianni said when asked what Huntley showed him. “And, you know, he’s been here. And I think we do a good job – I really do believe we do a good job of giving our young guys extra reps to develop.”

FASTEST Player You’ve NEVER Heard Of 🔥🔥🔥 || New Mexico State RB Jason Huntley Highlights ᴴᴰSubscribe, Like this Video & Turn On Notifications! (↓↓ click show more ↓↓) Instagram: instagram.com/justbombsproductions/ Twitter: twitter.com/JBP_Official Facebook: facebook.com/Just-Bombs-Productions-255863801590167/ New Mexico State RB Jason Huntley Senior 5’9 193 lbs Every year, NFL teams look to find speed to excite their offense. That’s why the 40 yard dash is the most popular drills at the NFL…2020-04-12T20:00:16Z

The 5-foot-9, 193-pounder has been playing catch-up all year but speed (see: Huntley’s college reel) never goes out of style. And the Eagles are going to need all the style points he can get against Tampa Bay.

Don’t Worry About Arryn Siposs

Arryn Siposs is coming off his worst performance as a professional punter. He looked out of sorts on a brutally bad 21-yard punt right before halftime – that one gave Dallas a short field and led to a touchdown – and then he booted a dismal 24-yard shank in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys turned Siposs’ second gaffe into a touchdown, too. He finished with three punts for 87 yards against Dallas.

It was an uncharacteristic night for Siposs who had been in the top-half of the NFL in yardage prior to Week 18. Now he’s closer to the bottom at 43.9 yards per punt. Clay isn’t worried about the Australian-born punter.

“Not concerned at all. Guy had a bad game in 18 weeks, it happens to the best of them,” Clay said. “You’re not going to be out there – and the production, everyone is going to look at his gross punting or whatever. If you looked over the last month and a half, the offense has been moving the ball so well that his plus-50 has to come into play, which he really excels at.”

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