DeAndre Carter has performed well as a punt returner, but that job still belongs to Darren Sproles.
That’s the right call.
Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp on Monday was asked about the punt returner role and if Sproles will assume that job upon his return from a hamstring injury or if Carter will keep it.
The answer was pretty clear:
DeAndre has done a great job. We’ll worry about that problem when we get there, hopefully sooner than later. That being said, obviously, hard to replace Darren Sproles. He’s an outstanding player, so we look forward to getting him back. He’ll step right back in back there when he comes back.
I tweeted this Monday afternoon; a few fans seemed upset, and I get it. Carter has performed very well as a punt returner and he’s a guy who’s just easy to root for. He’s a hard worker who made it with the Eagles after getting cut six times and when he did so, fulfilled a promise he made to his dying brother.
If you’re able to root against DeAndre Carter, you might not have a soul.
But the difference between Carter and Sproles as punt returners is that one has had success in two games and the other is one of the greatest punt return men in NFL history. And I’m not ready to toss aside one of the best to ever do it for a kid who has just shown flashes.
Think about it this way: Carter has returned seven punts so far this year for 89 yards, an average of 12.71 yards per return, which ranks seventh in the NFL.
But Sproles during his five years in Philly has averaged 12.4 yards per return. Now, all you math wizards are going to tell me that’s less than Carter, but that’s sustained success over a five-year span. Much more impressive.
In fact, since Sproles joined the Eagles in 2014, his average of 12.4 yards per return is third in the NFL among players with at least 25 punt returns and in 2016, he averaged 13.2 yards per carry.
Now, I know the next thing. Sproles is cooked. He’s 35, coming off a hamstring injury and has nothing left. You might be right. Or maybe he’ll take an expanded role on offense and leave the punt returns to Carter. But I’m not ready to write off Darren Sproles just yet.
I want to see if he has any punt return magic left. If he doesn’t, no problem. The Eagles will have Carter waiting and ready to go.
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