Special teams coordinator Bobby April addressed the media for the first time during training camp and raved about the abilities on special teams of two of the newest Eagles, wide receiver Kelley Washington and linebacker Tracy White. April acknowledged that both players' track record as special teamsvmavens had a lot of influence on them joining the roster.
"Oh I think (impacted bring them in) a lot," April said. "Tracy White was very good here. At the time, we didn't re-sign him, but we knew he was a great special teamer and then when the opportunity to get him back presented itself, certainly it was based on special teams. That's been his forte for a number of years that he's been in the league. I also think he's a pretty good linebacker too, but that's for someone else to mention. But yeah, really happy with him. I've watched him for a number of years, playing for different teams and he's really good. Kelley Washington the same way. Played against both those guys a lot of times and they're very good, they're very good players.
White "can really, really run. He's like a defensive back speed-wise. Very fast player. All the linebackers are fast, I think that's been an emphasis of the organization ... Our backers can run pretty good, but (White's) certainly one of the faster ones. I don't know if he or (Jamar) Chaney is the fastest, but it'd be a great race."
But when it comes down to trimming the final roster and there are only a few open spots on the team, how much influence does April have in fighting for a special teams ace like Washington, White or cornerback and gunner Dimitri Patterson?
"I would like to think my opinion matters a lot," April said. "But I was told something a long time ago by my high school coach. He said, 'If you go into coaching, you will be a great assistant coach if you can always look through the eyes of the head coach. And that will make you a better head coach when you're a head coach.' And I've always tried to do that. I'm not saying I've always succeeded, but I know sometimes you lose a guy because maybe it's just better for the overall organization. It might hurt your particular area, and sometimes that may happen. There are only so many ways you can slice up that pie. So I guess it's a good soldier mentality. But certainly I'd like to keep the best special teams players and certainly I voice my opinion in keeping them, but in reality, I don't know, if I can look through the eyes of the head coach, if we're the number one special teams in the league and we don't go to the playoffs, that's not necessarily good for Andy Reid."
April also noted that Sav Rocca remains the front-runner for the punting job as the incumbent, though he has been very impressed with Ken Parrish as a punter, kickoff specialist and holder. And in the return game, April said that DeSean Jackson and Ellis Hobbs remain the punt returner and kickoff returner respectively, but Chad Hall, Jeremy Maclin, Macho Harris and Quintin Demps will continue to see reps in those areas throughout the pre-season.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 11:24 a.m., August 2