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Eagles plan to make DeSean Jackson a part-time punt returner

Philadelphia Eagles' Jackson runs for a long gain on a punt return past New York Giants' Sash during their NFL football game in East Rutherford Reuters

DeSean Jackson has been Philadelphia’s top receiver and top punt returner for each of his four NFL seasons, but when they signed him to a new contract, the Eagles decided one of those roles would change. And they aren’t planning to pay him $47 million over the next five years to return punts.

So Jackson will give up punt return duties most of the time, although Eagles special teams coordinator Bobby April says he still thinks Jackson will have a role when the Eagles need a spark.

“DeSean will return some,” April said, via CSNPhilly.com. “But we’ll primarily focus him on offense and hopefully find a guy that can do what he can do. We want to use him offensively as a weapon. There’s some wear and tear to a guy his size. . . . Just the amount of running he does at practice. If you can eliminate some of it with the return game, if you can eliminate some of it in practice, he might be a little better replenished on game day. A little more explosive.”

Jackson’s productivity as a returner declined significantly last year, when he averaged a career-low 6.7 yards a return and failed to score a touchdown. So the Eagles might think it’s time to find a new punt returner anyway. But April said he is hoping to see Jackson fielding punts some of the time.

“He’s got the ability at any time to make a play and turn the game around. I don’t think we’re not going to use him,” April said. “I just don’t know if he’ll be the primary guy. That’ll be more [Andy Reid’s] call than mine. He’s going to continue to work at the position. He just won’t get as much work as he normally does. And consequently, he may be used sporadically during the game.”

If the Eagles are losing late in a game and need a spark, Jackson may get a shot at providing that spark by returning a punt. But most of the time, Jackson will be standing on the sideline while the other team is punting, getting ready to take the field with the offense.

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21 Responses to “Eagles plan to make DeSean Jackson a part-time punt returner”
  1. duncanthecat says: Jul 25, 2012 11:40 AM

    If you have ever seen him run block or go over the middle, one can conclude he is also a part-time WR.

  2. tjacks7 says: Jul 25, 2012 11:41 AM

    Great. He’s an exciting player to watch. I especially like the part where he drops/fumbles the ball prior to crossing the goal line.

  3. burgundyandgold says: Jul 25, 2012 11:41 AM

    DeSean got his money now he will break down. Another failed season for the dynastic dream team.

  4. ratherbpickin says: Jul 25, 2012 11:44 AM

    I agree with this decision. We need him to give us big plays in offense. He is small and gets banged up, so let’s preserve him as best as possible.

  5. mike bonserio says: Jul 25, 2012 11:48 AM

    good job eagles… take away something that was actually good for the team. and you wonder why the giants are the best in the divison!

  6. foul83 says: Jul 25, 2012 11:51 AM

    What exactly did they pay him all that money for then? Sticking up for bullied kids?

  7. rugbyisbetter says: Jul 25, 2012 11:54 AM

    I remember watching his first few punt returns. He would just dance around, and even sometimes run backwards and lose ground.
    Then it was like a light switch turned on, he could find a seem and take the distance.

    Best punt return? No time left, Meadowlands vs the G-Men. Everyone blames it on the punter for punting to Desean, but there are 10 other guys who need to make a tackle too.

    Having said all that, I think he is an arrogant, distraction to the team (who spikes the ball before the end zone… really?)

  8. dallassux says: Jul 25, 2012 11:59 AM

    burgundyandgold says:
    Jul 25, 2012 11:41 AM
    DeSean got his money now he will break down. Another failed season for the dynastic dream team.

    ——————————

    Kinda like the Redskins the last 20 years

  9. eaglesfan290 says: Jul 25, 2012 12:02 PM

    When you look at Desean’s contract everyone likes to talk about the $47 Million, what everyone forgets is he basically only has a 1 year guaranteed contract.

    Now you take away the special teams duty and do you get the sense Philly sees him as expendable in a season or two?

    If I were a betting man I would bet the Eagles draft a WR or TE in the first round next year and 2014 is the year DeSean is cut loose or traded.

    The Eagles know how to jettison dead weight better than most and DeSean is the heaviest 165lb receiver in the NFL!

  10. narutofan10 says: Jul 25, 2012 12:09 PM

    And, here is the first return of the season for Desean Jackson. He gets the ball and BOOM he is out for the season.

  11. FinFan68 says: Jul 25, 2012 12:19 PM

    silly me. i assumed that teams put the best players on the field. personally, i can’t stand the arrogance he has but he is one of the best return guys in the league. that would be like the bears limiting hester’s return opportunities…wait,…

  12. rwmilli says: Jul 25, 2012 12:22 PM

    @duncanthecat — you obviously know little about football, when he comes across the middle the kids explosive and makes plays, look at his size btw smart one, did your lightbulb just turn on? I highly doubt the eagles expect a 5″9 receiver to get out there and run block like an animal…after all he’s not built like Steve smith, he’s a little on the slimmer less bulky side, watch a game or study before you run your lips

  13. YouGetTheHorns says: Jul 25, 2012 12:23 PM

    Great. He’s an exciting player to watch. I especially like the part where he drops/fumbles the ball prior to crossing the goal line.

    It’s usually called premature celebration, but when it happens to DeSean Jackson, I believe the technical term is “Premature DeJackulation”.

  14. kingjaffejoffer says: Jul 25, 2012 12:36 PM

    IMO pretty good decision. They have two good options, well atleast they were in college in Brandon Boykin and Cliff Harris. Both were pretty good in their college teams return games.

  15. oldbyrd says: Jul 25, 2012 12:46 PM

    I think he will have a fabulous year. He was afaird of getting hurt without the contract he deserved..Maybe not right but that’s business. I would NOT use him on punts. Say whatever you like about him, he is absolute lightning and usually takes a safety and corner with him.

  16. myeaglescantwin says: Jul 25, 2012 1:16 PM

    (translation)
    “we are afraid that our tiny 175lb multi millionaire receiver will break if we let him return every punt. We will simply use him on the ones that count at the end of a game when we are behind.”

    which is exactly what andy would do with westbrook. But, i ask – if that last punt return is THAT important to the outcome, isnt each punt return that important?

    If anything, he should be returning each and every punt we force. Teams will eventually be too afraid to kick him the ball, which will significantly impact our field position.That right there is about equal to a 10+ yard gain for the offense strictly based of fear/respect.

  17. NoPayneNoGain51 says: Jul 25, 2012 2:02 PM

    Eagles plan to make DeSean Jackson a part-time punt returner for their Dynasty of a franchise.

  18. mikelitoris1 says: Jul 25, 2012 2:28 PM

    If I trash talk the Eagles while including adjectives no NFL fan has ever heard before such as “dream team” and “dynasty”, does that make me funny too?

    Herp derp Michael Vick….. derpedy herp dynasty….. derpy dum Vince Young HARHARHAR…. give me thumbs up for my extremely insightful comment about der dream team.

  19. mancave001 says: Jul 25, 2012 3:26 PM

    mike bonserio says:
    Jul 25, 2012 11:48 AM
    good job eagles… take away something that was actually good for the team. and you wonder why the giants are the best in the division
    ——————————

    You mean the Giants, who lost at home to us with our back-QB and came within minutes of getting swept by us? Right.

  20. bangitfootball says: Jul 25, 2012 4:08 PM

    47 Million for a whining, underachieving smurf receiver? LOL, the leagues worst contract.

  21. bangitfootball says: Jul 25, 2012 4:10 PM

    Prediction. Jackson will not even play 6 games this year. Just watch.

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