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Daisher Takes The Lead On Special Teams

BETHLEHEM, Pa. --Ted Daisher is running up the field blowing his whistle. "Yes, yes, good job! That's the way we play special teams. Fast, fast, fast!" Practice is all special teams on this day, and Daisher is in his element. Loving it. This is his time, and every second of it is maximized as Daisher teaches the players to play his way, every moment they are on the field.

Daisher is in his first year of coaching the special teams here, and he has some big plans. He is looking for a very specific personality for his special teams players and for his special teams.

"I'm looking for guys who are going to give great effort, who are going to be physical, who are going to be reliable," said Daisher. "Right now I think we're going in the right direction."

Daisher has a sense of what he will work with this season, even though special teams practices minus full pads and without tackling until the preseason games begin. He has his eyes on about 65 players who make it to practice every third day for a special teams-only practice. The time Andy Reid gives to special teams is something Daisher didn't have in Oakland or Cleveland, and Daisher intends to make the most of the opportunity.

We don't talk too much about special teams right now. There is so much focus on the offense and the new faces there, and the defense and the changes happening on that side of the ball. Daisher's teams are every bit as important. The Eagles came a long way last year, thanks in no small part to the contributions of rookie return men DeSean Jackson and Quintin Demps, and then Reid re-arranged his coaching staff and moved Rory Segrest to the defensive line and hired Daisher to coordinate the special teams.

The goal is to be the best in the NFL in every phase of special teams. Daisher has a veteran kicking game, explosiveness in the return phase and some players he really thinks will comprise a strong core. Yet, it is a work in progress because Daisher is at the mercy of the final cuts. He may lose a player he thinks can make a difference on special teams. Reid may keep a player or two around because of the way they play for Daisher.

Keep it fluid. Keep it competitive. Keep it aggressive.

"Smart, physical and players who love the game," said Daisher. "Those are the guys I want, and I think we have quite a few of them here. I am really encouraged by what I've seen so far."

Who works in the return game? Just about anybody who has speed and can catch with confidence and vision. Demps was so good last year as a rookie, but now he is a starting free safety and Daisher is looking more at Ellis Hobbs, Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy there. Punts? Jackson could be one of the best in the league, but he is being counted on to lead the way in the passing game. Maclin is in the mix. Danny Amendola has been doing both kickoffs and punts.

All of these practices since the spring camps are great and wonderful and they help Daisher identify who is his kind of player, but the games will help Daisher greatly. The pace is higher, the faces on the other side are fresh, and every snap is live.

"It will help the process a lot," said Daisher. "I like what I'm seeing in practice. The players are taking what they are being taught and learning. Now they have to take that teaching and apply it to the games. I'm excited about that prospect, but we have a lot of work to do between now and then."

Not all players at these practices are raw rookies looking for a way to survive in the NFL. Even starters take part in special teams, and they have to buy into the idea that special teams are every bit as important as offense and defense. And then there are players like wide receiver Reggie Brown and safety Sean Jones, both of whom have started in this league and who are now running as reserves.

Both Brown and Jones, for example, are impressing Daisher.

"I am really pleased," said Daisher. "It is a tribute to those guys. Special teams has not been a part of their past. They are working hard; they are trying to fit in. It's new, it's different. They're veterans and they are learning and working at it. They're pros.

"It shows a lot of character, like the players we have here. They want it. They want to be the best, so this group is a pleasure to work with."

The proof comes in game action, and in a short time, Daisher will be as excited as any coach in the NFL.


  • Interesting report that the Eagles were in the game to trade for Oakland's Derrick Burgess and that they offered a third-round draft pick and a player to the Raiders. New England acquired Burgess for third- and fifth-round picks. Adding on pass rushers is a key here, and that's why the team has to be pleased that newly-signed Jason Babin has had two good days of practice. Still, it is so important that Victor Abiamiri gets on the field and gets it going. He is such an important part of this defensive picture.
  • Maclin has looked good for two days, but he has some ways to go. On one play in an 11-on-11 drill, Maclin hugged the sideline as quarterback Kevin Kolb scrambled, instead of moving to the middle of the field to create some space. Kolb told Maclin about it after the play, and Maclin will file it away for future reference. There is no denying Maclin's talent. He has plenty.
  • Matt Wilhelm saw some second-team snaps at middle linebacker and has picked up on the defensive scheme pretty quickly. He looks the part at 6 feet 4, 245 pounds. Now we have to see if he can play.
  • Shawn Andrews is working hard to get his back right. Everyone is saying he is making the right kind of progress, which is extremely encouraging to hear.
  • Sean Jones is a ball hawk. No denying it. The man finds the football. He is still behind Quintin Demps at free safety, but Jones is going to be hard to keep off the field. Sean McDermott will find a way to use Jones in some capacity.
  • King Dunlap is working at both tackle spots. He did a nice job against Trent Cole in the one-on-one drills the other day, and if Dunlap can stay low, he can play tackle here.
  • Yes, the Eagles are serious about Winston Justice improving at right tackle. The game action will be the whole story for Justice. Can he keep making progress?
  • Leonard Weaver is the best fullback I've seen in an Eagles uniform. Sure it's ridiculously early to say that, but I don't care. He is going to turn out to be a great addition to the offense.
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