When Pro Bowl running back Ronnie Brown decided to join the Eagles, his goal was to contribute to a team with a chance to win the Super Bowl. If carries were what Brown sought, he would have gone elsewhere. But now that he finds himself as the No. 2 running back, Brown and the Eagles could be looking for another way to get the ball in his hands.
Consider that Brown carried the ball 200 times in 2010, an average of 12.5 carries a game. It was the fourth time in Brown's six seasons that he reached the 200-carry mark. Meanwhile, No. 2 running backs for the Eagles averaged only 3.375 carries per game in 2010. Only twice did the No. 2 running back carry the ball more than four times.
With that in mind, and knowing how dangerous Brown can be with the ball in his hands, the Eagles are considering Brown as a kick returner.
"We're going to try him," said special teams coordinator Bobby April. "We have to see how much he really wants to do it. You have to want to do that and you can't just take a passing interest in it and be somewhat interested. You have to really want to do it. Anybody who has running backs skills can pretty much run the kick returns."
For his part, Brown seems willing.
"However I can help and have an impact on this team, I'm pretty much open to it," said Brown. "I've never really done it, not in high school or anything. I had a couple chances in the preseason a few years ago."
Indeed, the first, and to-date only, time Brown was ever used as a kickoff returner was in the 2007 preseason when, over a two-game span, he returned three kickoffs for an average of 26.0 yards per return, with a long of 29. That's a tiny sample size taken in the preseason four years ago, but for reference, the Eagles averaged 20.5 yards per return in 2010, 25th in the league.
Of course, with the new kickoff rules going into effect this season, the expectation is that there will be fewer kicks returned this season. However, with an extremely difficult series of roster cuts looming, if the Eagles could hand the kickoff return duties to Brown rather than a specialist, it could mean an extra spot for someone at a deep position like defensive line, cornerback or offensive line.
"If I can make an impact and help us win games in that aspect," said Brown, "let's go."