Philadelphia Eagles News

Many happy returns? Dave Fipp has a plethora of options at his disposal

The Eagles were more than happy with the speed they added to the roster during the 2020 NFL Draft, but if Friday's media sessions were any indication, no one was happier than Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipp.

Fipp could barely contain his excitement when discussing the Eagles' burst in speed and was downright giddy when talking about all of the possible return options at his disposal.

"Oh gosh, man. We've got all kinds of options there right now," Fipp said while his face beamed with enthusiasm.

"Howie (Roseman) and those guys, I mean they've always done a great job, but this year, they've given us a lot of options back there," he added. "Everyone wants to be a returner. We're meeting with those rookies right now and they've all done it and they've all been really good at it. We definitely have a lot work with, so we're definitely excited about that."

Among the options is first-round pick Jalen Reagor, who returned two punts for touchdowns during his final season at TCU, earning him second-team All-Big 12 honors as a returner. He finished his college career with an average 17.8 yards per punt return and 24.2 yards per kick return.

"Jalen's obviously a really explosive player," Fipp said about Reagor. "When the ball is in his hands, he's electric. He made a lot happen. Had a huge average in college."

"When he's out in space, he can make guys miss. He's quick. He does a good job catching the ball, so I'm definitely excited about him," he added.

As much as Fipp is excited about Reagor's potential as a returner, Reagor wasn't selected to be a return specialist with the 21st overall pick. His main duty will be stretching the field on offense. For Fipp, the offense being the priority simply comes with the territory. He's already preparing for a decreased workload for running back Miles Sanders, who handled kickoff return duties as a rookie, as his role on offense is likely to expand. Since Reagor has yet to take an NFL snap, he still has high hopes for the rookie.

"We'll kind of balance all that stuff with what his role is on offense," Fipp said. "Obviously, I think that's an evolving situation there, so we're just going to have to monitor that and how much we try to ask of him and use him."

Reagor's draft classmates, John Hightower and Quez Watkins, also have experience returning kicks. Hightower gained 639 kick return yards in 2019, including a 98-yard touchdown against Portland State, which helped him earn All-Mountain West second-team honors as a returner.

Watkins didn't return as many kicks as Reagor and Hightower, but still managed to take a punt return to the house during the 2018 season.

Fipp is just as excited about the rookies who will be tasked with covering kicks, too. Specifically, linebackers Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley, and undrafted free agent Dante Olson.

However, a major hindrance in evaluating these players will be the lack of preseason games, which were wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Preseason games are usually where players near the bottom of the roster can showcase their value on special teams, as it is in some cases, their best chance at making a roster.

"We just got to do a great job of putting them in situations where they can show themselves," Fipp said.

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