Monday, August 3, 2015

DeSean on returning punts: "Anything for the team"

With the Eagles punt return unit struggling, DeSean Jackson was asked if he would be open to returning.

DeSean on returning punts: "Anything for the team"

DeSean Jackson may return punts once again for the Eagles. (Yong Kim/Staff Writer)
DeSean Jackson may return punts once again for the Eagles. (Yong Kim/Staff Writer)

With the Eagles punt return unit struggling, DeSean Jackson was asked if he would be open to returning. 

“That’s the coach’s decision," Jackson said Thursday. "But anything for the team that would help give the team a spark."

The Eagles need a Jackson-like spark. Rookie Damaris Johnson is averaging just 6.0 yards a punt return and is ranked 28th in the league among returners with more than six returns.

Jackson, who holds the team mark for punt return touchdowns (4) and is third in punt return yardage (1,226), has yet to field a punt this season. In each of his first four seasons, the number of punts Jackson returns decreased.

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Eagles special teams coach Bobby April reiterated Thursday that Jackson remained available to return punts, but that it was up to coach Andy Reid when he wanted to use his star wide receiver.

"You may get your wish this week," April said to a reporter that mentioned the idea of using Jackson. "You might get it in two weeks."

The Eagles have lacked big plays this season, once a staple of their offense. Jackson is off to a strong start as a receiver, but has found the end zone only once when he caught a 19-yard touchdown against the New York Giants.

He said he was open to any additional opportunity to score.

"I like scoring touchdowns, I like making big plays," Jackson said. "That's the type of guy I am, type of player I am."

Of Jackson's 31 career touchdowns, 22 have covered more than 30 yards. The Eagles said that opposing defenses that have focused on taking the long pass away this year.

"If you watch film, it's obvious what they're doing -- rolling safeties, things like that," Jackson said. "A lot of times when I do have single coverage they're blitzing. We're staying patient and hopefully something can break here."

Jackson, who is averaging 16.3 yards a reception, said that there should be chances to catch balls underneath on various patterns. He took a short crossing route 25 yards on Sunday against the Steelers.

Jackson's longest grab of the season came against the Ravens in Week 2 when he caught a 49-yard pass. For the season, he has 24 catches for 391 yards, a touchdown and has yet to drop a pass.

"I haven't?" Jackson said when he was asked to give a reason for his sure-handedness this season. "I don't know. Just focused, concentrating, man."

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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

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