The bottom line is that Michael Clay built the foundation for the special teams in 2021 and now he wants to advance the production in every phase. He's working through his players now, getting to know them just a little bit more, and when Training Camp starts the open competition begins.
That's the way of the world in NFL special teams, and the Eagles are no different than any of the other 31 franchises in that regard.
The Eagles will enter Training Camp with stability at the specialist positions with Jake Elliott coming off of his first Pro Bowl campaign; Rick Lovato, a 2019 Pro Bowl selection, one of the best in the business; and Arryn Siposs, who Clay wants to "unlock" in his second year as the team's punter.
"We still think he has a lot of talent in that leg and it's just him unlocking it not for a three-game stretch, but for an entire season stretch right there," Clay said. "But also, he does a lot in terms of the holding and the confidence that helps Jake. Punters aren't just here to punt the ball; they actually have to hold and help bring that confidence from both Rick and Jake.
"We've done some things in the offseason, and he's changed his body to be stronger through the core and everything. We're going to still work with Arryn. He's still very raw, so we're going to still work with him, and hopefully get him more consistent and more confident as the season goes on to where he can be an asset like he is in the plus-50 (-yard line) area. We all know he's pretty dangerous in the plus-50 area, now let's make it consistent from the 20 to the 40 to help flip the field for our defense."
Clay is in his second season as the team's special teams coordinator and he knows the roster has changed and that he won't really be able to evaluate anything until the pads go on in Training Camp. Last year, Elliott had the best season of his career, making the Pro Bowl after nailing 30 of 33 field goal attempts and all 44 of his PATs. The coverage units were largely solid. The Eagles want more from their return units, but Clay was also encouraged by the progress he saw from Jalen Reagor in the punt return game.
"It's just we have to get him going again like he was last year being confident, catching everything, then getting up the field, making one guy miss, then understanding, all right, there's nothing else? Let me get down. I'll take 11 yards, I'll take 10 yards," Clay said. "Those little cuts, then you'll get those big returns right there like he did in the Giants game where it was a 12-yard, an 11-yard, then boom, he hits a 35-yarder, the ball is at the 23-yard line."