That was one very large, very relieved coach standing in the middle of the visitors’ locker room at Gillette Stadium late Friday night.
No, not Andy Reid. Rory Segrest.
The Eagles’ special teams coach, who was uncomfortably close to having the adjective “beleaguered” surgically attached to his name, saw all his hard work finally amount to something in a 27-17 preseason victory over the Patriots.
Eagles did not get any points from their return teams last season, Segrest’s first in charge of their very young units. All through this training camp, Segrest kept saying he saw progress, but other than some decent coverage against Carolina, that was hard for outsiders to discern from the games. Returners made mistakes, punter Sav Rocca botched a fake field goal into a touchdown, and Segrest’s initial choice for returning kicks, running back Lorenzo Booker, showed his inexperience, leading to an abrupt switch to rookie safety Quintin Demps.
“Obviously, we didn’t have the success we wanted to have last year, and we had some room to improve,” Segrest said after Demps’ 101-yard kickoff return touchdown and fellow rookie DeSean Jackson’s 76-yard punt return touchdown sent the Patriots reeling, in the final 1:35 of the second quarter. “That’s one area, anytime you have that speed on the field, you can open up some seams there, you have that possibility of stretching the field … we’re definitely excited about those guys,” Segest said.
“It was great to have it all come together,” Segrest said. “That’s the thing; last year, being so close on several opportunities, we were a block away … It was good to finally put those together.”
Other thoughts from the game:
*We don’t yet know the result of the MRI exam on Brian Dawkins’ ankle, but when Dawkins went riding down the tunnel in a cart in the second quarter, I was thinking that this is my major fear with Dawk – not that he can’t play anymore, which is what some people took from his stuggles last season, but that he can’t stay healthy anymore. Maybe the injury isn’t that big a deal, but it’s a good thing the Eagles seem very deep at safety right now.
*I never thought I’d say this, but right now, it would be very, very difficult to see cutting Jerome McDougle.
*It was against other subs, granted, but sixth-round rookie linebacker Joe Mays was credited with seven solo tackles.
*I don't think I'm the first to notice, but preseason or not, that New England defense looks old.