DeSean to return punts

Take it for what it's worth, but the depth chart on the Eagles Web site has DeSean Jackson as their top punt returner and Jeremy Maclin as his backup.

The depth chart is a far cry from the final word on personnel decisions, but with few options after the Eagles released a number of preseason candidates, Jackson will likely be returning punts in Sunday's opener at the St. Louis Rams.

(Eagles coach Andy Reid later confirmed on his radio show on WIP that Jackson and Maclin would indeed return punts.)

A few weeks back the wide receiver told The Inquirer that he was still up for the job. There was some speculation that Jackson would balk at returning punts if he didn't have a contract extension by the start of the season.


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"First and foremost, that's something I want to do, regardless of the contract situation," Jackson said on Aug. 15. "If anything, that would help me still in my contract situation just because it's like the X-factor."

There has been no progress made contract extension negotiations. In fact, there haven't been any formal talks since Jackson reported to camp on Aug. 8 after an 11-day holdout. Jackson, though, has not missed a practice since returning.

"The thing is, I still have a year left," Jackson said Monday of the four-year deal he signed as a rookie. "I plan on playing it out."

The Eagles gave Michael Vick an extension last Monday that could earn the quarterback up to $80 million over the next six seasons. The following day reporters gathered around Jackson's locker to find out if he thought he was next. He declined comment and hasn't yet spoken publicly since Vick's deal.

Vick was to play under the franchise tag this season, but his new deal lifted the tender. The tag is now available for the Eagles to used on Jackson next off-season if they choose to do so. They are sure to hang that over the 24-year-old's head in negotiations.

On Saturday, the Eagles cut the three receivers that returned punts in the preseason -- Chad Hall, Sinorice Moss and Johnnie Lee Higgins. Jackson was expected to be used situationally with one of those three handling the rest. Now the majority of returns could fall on his shoulders.

He's been one of the best in the league over the previous three seasons, returning 99 punts for an average of 11.2 with four touchdowns.

Maclin has nine career punt returns for 47 yards. No other player on the roster has returned punts in the NFL. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman was asked Saturday if Dion Lewis could return punts, but he said that the rookie would only handle kick returns.


The Eagles announced that they signed linebacker Akeem Jordan to a two-year deal. When Jordan, a free agent, was re-signed near the start of training camp it was for just one year. He's the only one of their own free agents that the Eagles brought back for this season.