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April's Latest Challenge: Integrating New Pieces

With the return of DeSean Jackson to the lineup last week against the Colts, many wondered whether or not the Pro Bowl punt returner would resume his normal duties on special teams. While he did return one punt for six yards, it's clear that Jorrick Calvin will remain in the picture.

"(Andy Reid) wanted to make sure DeSean felt good, felt good about everything," said special teams coordinator Bobby April on Friday. "And if there was a series in there where (Jackson) felt a little bit gassed with his offensive play, you know he wanted me to talk to him and see how he felt. We have a lot of confidence in Jorrick."

That confidence wasn't just given to Calvin, it was earned. His 11.5 yards per return average would rank him fifth in the NFL, though he doesn't have enough returns to qualify (you need to have 1.25 punt returns per team's games played – Calvin has 8 returns in 8 games). While Jackson is an elite returner, his expanded role on offense and his importance to the team make his punt return duties a more dangerous commitment for head coach Andy Reid to make.

Much like former Eagle Brian Westbrook, Jackson will benefit from a lesser role on special teams as his value to the offense increases. Luckily, Calvin is a more-than-adequate replacement when Jackson needs a chance to rest.

"He's still growing," April said of Calvin, "but boy he's bold, he's fearless and he is talented. And when DeSean needs that extra time to go run those routes, certainly it's very easy to see how important he is to the offense."

Another backup on special teams that has come to the forefront is cornerback Trevard Lindley. With Dimitri Patterson taking the first team reps at right cornerback against the Colts, Lindley assumed most of Patterson's roles on special teams. April has lauded Patterson in weeks prior as the team's most productive special teamer, but said Friday that Lindley filled in quite nicely.

"He did a good job. I think, whenever you take the guy that, at least at that point last week was probably our best special teams player (in Patterson), probably our most productive player, and kind of take him out of the lineup, there's a chance you could drop in some production," April said. "But pretty much Trevard Lindley took his place and Jorrick Calvin took his place as a gunner, and they did well. And I'm not necessarily saying they did better than Dimitri would have done, but they did well."

April has another challenge on his hands this week as Colt Anderson, signed this week off of Minnesota's practice squad, will suit up and take some of Kurt Coleman's special teams duties. Coleman is likely to start at free safety as Nate Allen is battling a neck injury.

"He's a little bit older, has played in preseason, never in a regular season game. We're going to replace Kurt primarily with him and we have real good trust and confidence in Colt playing well, playing hard," April said of Anderson. "He's a hard-nosed guy and you really want all your team like that."

Time and time again this season, the Eagles' depth has proved valuable. That depth will continue to be counted upon to provide the team with production on the field and peace of mind off of it.

-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 4:00 p.m., November 12

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