At the beginning and end of every practice, special teams coordinator Rory Segrest goes through special teams drills with the players. After a week of observations, Segrest has new insight to the development of his unit - what's worked, what hasn't.
"More so than anything else, I think we've seen some leadership," Segrest said. "We brought in some veteran guys through free agency and they're taking responsibility for that leadership role. Also, the returning guys that we've got there have done a nice job of stepping up and just encouraging and helping coach up some of the younger guys and getting them to where they need to be so we can have a good start."
Linebacker Rocky Boiman, defensive end Chris Clemons and strong safety Quintin Mikell are some of the leaders that Segrest was referring to.
The Eagles have a fair amount of talent at every position and that will translate into an improved special teams unit, according to Segrest.
"Right now, we're at a point where we want to get the best guys on the field and we feel like we've got enough depth there that we'll be able to do that," he said. "Anytime you've got some depth, offensively and defensively, you've got some guys who can go in and give those guys a blow, then it gives them an opportunity to fill in some other spots."
Segrest said his biggest responsibility right now is to solidify the return game.
Lorenzo Booker could be the "training camp darling" of 2008 up to this point. The second-year running back out of Florida State broke a 60-yard run off a reverse play during Monday morning's practice. Segrest said that Booker has made a similar impression in the return game.
"He's got really good speed up the field," Segrest said. "He can see the creases there. Same thing from a running back position - he knows how to read the scheme, he knows where to be and he's got the ability to get there."
The only question still left unanswered is how Booker will respond to contact.
"He's definitely got the ability to give us the big return, but is he going to be able to break tackles once he gets hit," Segrest wondered.
Quintin Demps, J.R. Reed, Correll Buckhalter and Jamal Jones all are taking reps as the kick returner.
DeSean Jackson will showcase his talents at the punt returner spot. Segrest said that the combination of practice and Jackson's natural ability make him special.
"I think it's a little bit of both," Segrest said. "You have to know where your blocks are going to set up, where they're going to occur. And, at the same time, that's why we brought DeSean in here. He's an explosive guy. He's capable of giving us those big returns. It's a combination of both knowing where to be and, obviously, having the physical tools to get there."
Whatever holes that remain unfilled on the special teams, Segrest remains steadfast in evaluating talent during other portions of practice.
"I go around and look at all the different drills there. You can really see, both on offense and defense …how guys are going to work in space, how they're going to work in closed quarters," he said. "We've had some linebackers, some receivers and some DB's there. All those guys are kind of in the learning stage right now. I wouldn't say there is one guy that just jumped out, but they are learning the system and we've got some good ability there."