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Philadelphia Eagles News

ST Coordinator Bobby April

On newly acquired P Mat McBriar working as a holder: "Yeah, well going over a couple situations on field goals with him as a holder. It wasn't about punting but it was more about holding. We are going to try to work on more and more holding as we go and some of the situations that can happen as a holder."

On whether McBriar worked as a holder as a member of the Dallas Cowboys: "Yes, he's had two different stints. When (former Cowboys head coach Bill) Parcells was there, he wanted a quarterback to do it in (Cowboys QB Tony) Romo and maybe somebody else. So he held before and after Parcells but not when Parcells was there."

On how he will split the punting reps between McBriar and P Chas Henry during camp: "Pretty much right now 50-50. I have them working to get back because he has not punted much in a long time. He is kind of getting his strength back. We are going to gauge it and he will gauge it more than I am about how much he needs. I think with how we practice once a day and not like the old camp, these guys won't punt as much in camp anyway. The schedule does not permit it."

On how he is able to evaluate kick and punt return situations without live contact: "The return game is tough to evaluate. So much in the thinking has to be what you have seen them do in the past. Then you almost are exclusively limited to how well they catch it because that can be determined. How they run with it, their decision making, their toughness running with it, and their judgment are pretty hard to tell until it is full speed. With quickness and a guy like (WR Damaris) Johnson you can see he catches the ball really well. He is in position all  the time and is really quick and then he had a big career at Tulsa. From that right now he is our number one returner. But he is still in competition to make the team."

On whether CB Cliff Harris is still battling for a starting return spot: "Absolutely. He is in it. We are working him in there and we know he is a really good player as well. He is in the mix. He is a good player. He's another guy that is fighting for a position. If he ended up being the punt returner it would obviously elevate his status in the coaches' eyes in terms of making the team. There's a lot of things that we're going to have to make real and wise prudent decisions on, that's for sure.

On whether a player can make the team if he is only the primary kick returner: "I would think so. All the guys we are talking about play other positions. They are very skilled in their other positions. Damaris is skilled and Cliff Harris is skilled so I can see us doing that. The punt return is critical because the judgments they make are going to affect the offense and the defense. In the playoff game the ball hit the kid on the leg because his judgment was off a little bit. Big plays that affect both the offense and the defense so instead of having the ball, their defense had to go out there and defend the goal line from about 20 yards away. Those things are so critical to those sides of the ball that I can definitely see Coach (Reid) keeping a guy because of that status."

On whether WR Damaris Johnson reminds him of any punt returners he has coached in the past: "You know who I've had and you may not know his name because I've had some really good returners, I mean great returners. They were great players. His name is (WR) Eric Guliford. Nobody may remember him, but he played for us for the Saints and it's the only time that I as a coach, we ever led the NFL in opponent net punt (average). Now Eric is not like Damaris because he's not nearly as fast or nearly as quick, but he gets to every ball. They don't hit the ground, they don't roll. He makes good decisions. Reminds me of him more than any of the other ones for that reason. He's got a break on that ball and he's there in position. It almost doesn't matter where it's kicked."

On whether Johnson is the first-team punt returner at this point: "He's running as the number one guy right now."

On whether CB Brandon Boykin is the first-team kick returner at this point: "Brandon for kickoffs. That's correct."

On who else is competing for returns: "Well, (WR) Chad Hall who did it last year, (RB) Dion Lewis who did it last year, (WR) Mardy Gilyard who's done it. We really liked him coming out of Cincinnati. He didn't do much last year for St. Louis, but we like him. We think he's a good player. He's in the mix as a receiver too. So we've got guys. We've got guys. Like I said before, we've got to make a really wise decision on which one is actually the best and it's got to be done really through the preseason."

On whether Boykin reminds him of any kick returners he has coached in the past: "Brandon Boykin's a little like (former New Orleans Saints DB) Tyrone Hughes. Some of these aren't household names. But Tyrone Hughes went to the Pro Bowl one year, led the league in kick returns with the Saints. Both of these guys are Saints, who've (as a team) probably had the least amount of success and I'm comparing them. I can't say he looks like Deion Sanders or Rod Woodson, but he's very similar I think to like a Tyrone Hughes, who was a DB out of Nebraska, played about eight years in the league, went to a couple of Pro Bowls as a return man. Very similar to that. Very similar."

On whether they are using Johnson as a kick returner: "Yeah, sure, he could do both. He could do both. All of them could do both. All of them do practice, right now, both. Dion doesn't practice returns, the punt returns. He practices kickoff returns. We had guys back there that were off returners like (WR) Riley Cooper who, of course, he's injured, (FB) Stanley Havili who weren't doing punt returns. And then we still have (WR) DeSean (Jackson) in the mix. He caught some yesterday and we're actually going to have him catch some. He's not totally out of the picture either, although we would like to have someone comparable and always have him full-tilt on offense if we can."

On whether K Alex Henery has improved this offseason: "Well, in the offseason, he was on fire. He was 100 percent on almost every day. Out here, he's kicking about 80 percent, which is less than what he did in the offseason. However, compared to a year ago at camp, totally different. So he's way advanced over a year ago and he had a good season and he kicked off. Everybody in America questioned whether he could kick off or not because coming out of Nebraska, he wasn't even the kickoff guy. They had a different guy do it and he did well as a kickoff guy for us and he's doing well now. So, he's definitely improved."

On whether the team does anything to provide added pressure on kickers during practice: "Sometimes. We haven't done it yet, but we'll bring the whole team up. There's a little bit of pressure under them when we just do our normal situation because everybody's watching it and they're watching to see whether he's going to make it. That's not like the game, but we'll do a situation where you know how I'll yell out the situations after that five minute period. We'll do a situation where we'll get everybody in behind him, yelling, screaming and hollering. But that's about it. The games have to take care of themselves."

On whether he will sit down with Henery to discuss who he feels more comfortable with as a holder: "Yeah, absolutely. His feedback on that will be critical. I mean, it won't be a deal-breaker because both guys can hold. When there's a big separation in their ability to hold, obviously it's more of a factor. But absolutely I will get his feedback and relay it to the head coach because it's important. To me, that's the biggest play in football right now. So many games come down, the real gut-check games come down to a field goal and so many games now are so close. Boy, that play, you better get that play in, you better get that play successful."

On what he has seen out of Harris as a returner: "Well, primarily is what I saw of him out of Oregon. But he's been out here; he's caught the ball really well. He's got real athleticism. I don't know how pure fast he is, but he's got a lot of athleticism. He's got ball skills. You can see him, he's a DB, make some plays and make some plays that are pretty hard to make. That's what's impressed me about him."

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