Philadelphia Eagles News

Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April

On whether WR DeSean Jackson will return punts: "DeSean and (WR) Jeremy Maclin will be returning punts, and kickoffs will be (RB) Dion Lewis. (RB) Ronnie Brown may end up doing some; he hasn't gotten a whole lot of work at it although he's practiced all camp. And then, Maclin will also be in the number for kickoff returns as well."

On whether he was impressed with Lewis in the last preseason game: "Yeah, he's been an impressive guy. When we drafted him, well (special teams quality control coach) Duce (Staley) worked him out and we had a big interest in him, I know (general manager) Howie (Roseman) and those guys, (director of player personnel) Ryan (Grigson), they really liked him as a player. And then I think he's been really impressive. I think he's going to be good on the kick returns."

On whether he thinks Lewis having fresh legs will help him a lot on kickoff returns: "Yeah, I would think so, and he's a really good runner and his size kind of throws you off a little bit, but the guy is really strong, powerful, and he has tremendous vision and ability to find the holes, elude the tacklers. And that play, it takes awhile to get to that point, but that play is really a running play; you know, a running play is an abbreviation of a kickoff return but when it all comes together it's very similar to a running play. So he's done good and he's done well at practice. Duce has had him catching the ball, moving to the ball, communicating, doing all of the things a returner has to do. So I think with the time he's had in camp he's maximized his ability to be the guy."

On whether Jackson has been receptive and willing to return punts and whether there's any hesitation on Jackson's part: "You know, not at all. I mean I don't know anything about the contract deal but he always wants the ball in his hands, he always wants the ball in his hands. And certainly he's had so much success over high school, college, and the NFL returning kicks, you know, that's really just a part of his play. I don't think it's any different than playing receiver. So we might make it a difference because of how we use him and how much running he's doing, of course he's very valuable to the offense and consequently valuable to our organization in how many plays he has and that type of thing. But he's never, I mean he's always wanted the ball, he's always wanted to be the returner, to do the returns."

On whether he has talked to Jackson about returning punts: "We've talked to him about it. And Duce is assisting me this year, and so much of Duce's work has been with the returners, and I think he's done a great job. He's done a great job. Really this is his first (year)…well, he worked with us last year, he didn't necessarily have a position (but)now he coaches sort of everything and he's doing a great job with those guys."

On whether he feels comfortable with K Alex Henery and P Chas Henry: "Yeah, I think they're certainly taking hell every day like almost any rookie, I don't care which one it is in this league. They have things that you would hope this is the worst they'll ever be and from here on the arrow's going North for them all no matter what, for (Carolina Panthers QB) Cam Newton, (the) first guy taken to anybody that's in the league for the first time. So I think they've done well. They're working on their consistency; consistency is the nemesis of every punter and kicker and that's what they're working on. They do need to strike the ball better but I don't know if I'll ever get to a point, no matter who it is, where you could say they're 100 percent consistent every day, all the time. It just doesn't happen. Am I comfortable was the question. Yeah, I'm absolutely comfortable with them. I have a lot of confidence in them."

On whether he is nervous for Henery and Henry: "Well, pretty much my whole career I've had experienced kickers. You know, Rohn Stark, Gary Anderson, Norm Johnson, Ryan Mormon, Rian Lindell (and) a lot of other guys. So I've always had real experienced guys, and of course the two last year (David Akers and Sav Rocca) were in their mid to upper 30s, so it's different in that standpoint. They don't give me any reason to be nervous.

"They give me reason to need to make sure everything we're doing we're correcting everything that happens (and) we're staying within the time constraints that we have to have, which is a little accelerated from what they're used to in college. But there's borders in there that they have to stay under time-wise. And they haven't really given me any reason to worry or be nervous. So I think they're winners. I think their achievements that they've had up to this point, obviously it means nothing, but they did get to this point by a lot of skill and a lot of production. And I think it will continue for them."

On whether he has an idea of what kickoffs in the regular season are going to be like with the rule change: "I still think the kickoff and the kickoff return you're going to see things evolve over time. Right now we're not seeing a lot of differences in the kickoff return. The way that people are scheming things or doing things they're running their returns the way they've always done them; they're bringing the ball out more than they've done before, that's different. The kickoff coverage has been very vanilla, there's not a whole lot of room to do a lot of maneuvering. So it's been more vanilla on the kickoff coverage, but I think you'll see things evolve.

"And without having any mini camps or OTAs to workout certain things on a rule change that big, I think people have been forced to be a little bit vanilla. There's a lot of things that go on on that play that, unless you're looking right at it you or you kind of even know it's coming, you could be unaware of it. You may think that just ten guys going down there. But there's stunts and there's loops and there's different things that happen that we're not seeing as much of. I think everybody is just trying to make sure that they get their guys onsides."

On whether WR Chad Hall will have an opportunity to return punts: "Chad Hall's on the practice squad, not on the 53(-man roster). It seems like he is because he's here and he played last year. How could he be on the practice squad? But he is on the practice squad. And Chad, in his last game it was not indicative of the way he's played around here, he's been really consistent catching the ball. You know, he's a smaller guy that a lot of guys get separated from the ball on contact; he hasn't been one of those guys whether he's been a receiver, a runner, or a punt returner. So he didn't have a great night but he's a really good player. And I'm really glad we have him on our team because that guy being in the building makes your organization just a little bit better."

On whether he anticipates RB Ronnie Brown and RB Dion Lewis as the two deep men in the kickoff return: "It could be, it could be Ronnie Brown. We have a couple of guys working back there with Dion. We also have (WR) Riley Cooper and we like that off guy to be more of a blocker. Riley's got a real good feel for it, so (head) coach (Andy Reid) will really make the decision, but it could be either Ronnie Brown or Riley Cooper."

On his thoughts about the value of LB Akeem Jordan on special teams: "Yeah, well the other day I was checking the waiver wire, and it was fairly late I don't know what night it was, and I saw that he was terminated. And I had not seen earlier in the day where he had signed a two-year contract so I immediately called Howie and said, 'Jeez, did we terminate Akeem Jordan?' And he was on the phone with coach Reid so he said, 'I'm going to call you right back.' So I had to wait awhile to find out if we actually terminated him, but of course we didn't, they did that for some reason.

"He's been really good for us, he's been a really solid guy. You know, he's a quality player, he's a quality person. He keeps the order and the continuity of things really well. So he's a really good guy for us and I was really glad he was back because he is really productive. He hasn't made a lot of flashy plays that you'd go, 'Wow, who's that guy?' But he's consistently doing the right things and he brings a lot to what we do on (special) teams."

On his plan for Jackson returning punts: "Yeah, he's the primary guy as far as I'm concerned. Last year we had a couple of other guys that could and did return punts. I think when he gets replaced in a game it will be coach Reid's decision that we need to give him a break right here, or I think he's gassed, or maybe DeSean will even express it that he's a little bit gassed or whatever. And that's how that takes place. I would think, I don't want to speak for coach Reid, but I would think he would have the opportunity when he feels it because he runs a lot of really deep routes on every play. And that's more what we were looking at a year ago when we could spell him. But we had more punt returners at that time that could spell him."

On whether he would be surprised, playing in a dome stadium, to see any kickoff returns on Sunday: "Yeah, you know their kicker, he's gotten better since last year. He kicks off better than he did a year ago, that generally doesn't happen. And in a dome with no conditions…depends on how high scoring the game is. You know, if there's a lot of kickoffs I don't think every single one of them is going to be nonreturnable. But I think there's not as likely a chance to see a bunch of kick returns this week. And I think our guy will kick it well, too. I think he'll replenish from the training camp and his leg will be a little stronger than it has been, too."

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