Thursday, August 2, 2012
DeSean Jackson on fewer punt returns
By Dan Graziano
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- After the Philadelphia Eagles' morning walk-through here Thursday, special teams coach Bobby April said that rookies Damaris Johnson and Brandon Boykin were on top of the depth chart at punt returner and kick returner, respectively. This has been a question many of you have asked, and much of the time that question has been tied to the status of wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who is one of the best punt returners in the league but has been used as such less and less in recent years.
Coincidentally, I was speaking with Jackson after the morning walk-through, and I asked him whether he'd be doing more or less punt returning this year.
"This year, I'll probably be doing it a little bit less, just because I'm focusing on wide receiver a little bit more," said Jackson, who returned 50 punts as a rookie in 2008, 29 in 2009, 20 in 2010 and 17 last year. "But that doesn't mean I'm not gong to do it. Coach [Andy] Reid will spot me here and there for a punt return, you know, like we did in the Giants game. If we need a big return, put me back there and hopefully end the game with a walk-off touchdown."
Jackson is, of course, referring to the December 2010 game in which the Eagles came from way behind against the Giants and won it when he returned a punt for a touchdown as time ran out. He has not returned a punt for a touchdown since that day, but he doesn't fear that he'll get rusty.
"It's second-nature to me," Jackson said. "So I feel like, once I know how to do it, I'll always know how to do it. Like riding a bike. So it's a great position to be in, my fifth year now and just having some leeway with getting out of doing it full-time, just spotting me here and there to keep me fresh at wide receiver. I definitely like that."
So there you have it. He'll go in and return a punt if they need a game-winning touchdown, but otherwise, for now at least, it looks like Damaris Johnson.