Macho Time on kickoffs

Eagles' rookie Macho Harris will take over kick return duties against the Bears. (David Swanson / Staff Photographer)

The Eagles are ranked 30th in the NFL in kick returns, averaging 20.1 yards per return. Only Tennessee and Oakland have a lower average.

The Birds are expected to turn to Macho Harris over Jeremy Maclin for Sunday night's game against Chicago, with Ellis Hobbs out following season-ending spinal surgery and Quintin Demps sidelined with a high ankle sprain.

“I like [Macho]," special teams coordinator Ted Daisher said. "He’s very aggressive. He hits it up in there north and south, very decisive with the ball in his hands. He has some toughness. He has a good feel on how to run the ball.

"I think Jeremy has potential to be a good returner and if we did a little better job blocking I think he would get the same results.”

The Eagles have had a significant numbers of penalties on special teams, which helps account for their poor resuls statistically, Daisher said.

“Statistically we may be down there, but if you’re an opponent playing us I think you need prepare very hard to play our kickoff return unit and our return game," Daisher said. "We have some excellent returners. I think the penalties have played a role. Obviously we would be ranked much higher if those things weren’t involved. We’re making progress. Are we where I’d like us to be right now? No, but I think we’re going in the right direction.”

On the other side of the field, the marquee name is Devin Hester, who is no longer returning kickoffs but remains the punt returner. He has returned 17 this season with a 9.9-yard average and a long of 33 yards.

“We have tremendous respect for Devin Hester," Daisher said. "I’ve watched him over the last several years; he’s obviously as good a punt returner as there has ever been, in my opinion. We have to do a good job of being disciplined, staying in our lanes and executing because if you have any problems at all with your coverage, he’ll exploit it.”