Philadelphia Eagles News

Why DeSean Jackson Is Used As A Punt Returner

DeSean Jackson became the first player in NFL history to earn Pro Bowl honors at two positions in the same season - wide receiver and return specialist.

With his value on the offensive side of the ball, it's understandable that fans wonder if it's too big of a load for a key player to handle. Look at Brian Westbrook. He was arguably the deadliest punt returner in the game, but as his role increased on offense he was only utilized as a returner in key situations.

The biggest difference there is position. Running backs take hits on each and every play no matter if they are rushing the ball, catching the ball or pass protecting. At wide receiver, Jackson's role isn't going to increase at this point and there are plenty of non-contact snaps.

Jackson has said that in time he could see himself removed from punt return duty, but not now. And special teams coordinator Bobby April explained why.

"Anytime a Philadelphia Eagle has the ball in his hand, he's trying to score," April said. "You would like the best players to have the ball in their hands because that gives you the greatest probability of scoring. That's one good reason you would like to have a really good player with the ball in his hands.

"It doesn't matter if it's snapped, passed or kicked. It's a play. Once the action is going, we're trying to get to their goal. The best way to get to the goal is to have the best guys."

Now, why isn't Jackson the kick returner? April said on Tuesday that Ellis Hobbs and Quintin Demps will be the primary kickoff returners this Friday against the Chiefs.

"(The kickoff return) is more like a running play and you generally need a little bit bigger guy," April said. "You need a little bit bigger guy because it's a little more slug-it-out-type run and the punt return is a little bit more bob-and-weave, if that makes sense. But, there is a difference and that's how I see the difference. And that's the way we apply it."

Should Jackson not be on punt return duty this Friday, Jeremy Maclin would be the other option per April.

-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 2:50 p.m., August 24

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