Eagles

Just how big a role will DeSean Jackson have as punt returner with Eagles?

Just how big a role will DeSean Jackson have as punt returner with Eagles?

It seems like there’s a good chance DeSean Jackson will return a few punts in the 2019 season. It also seems like he won’t be the Eagles’ primary punt returner. 

Jackson might not be the best punt returner in Eagles history, but he’s definitely one of the most electric. And even as he enters Year 12 of his career, his first in Philly since 2013, it seems like he could help the Eagles in some punt return situations. 

In fact, Eagles special teams coach Dave Fipp on Monday told reporters that the Eagles have “talked a lot” about what Jackson’s role as a returner might be this season. 

“I would say it this way: I’m sure he’ll have a role,” Fipp said. “Exactly what that is, I don’t know if anyone knows that totally yet.”

Then, Fipp started rattling off the questions the Eagles will have to ask themselves: 

• How many plays is Jackson playing? How many plays can he handle? 

• Can he handle more of a workload? Can he not? 

• Does Jackson want to do it? Does he not want to do it? 

• What’s the situation in the game? Are the Eagles up by a lot where it’s not worth the risk? 

• Does the head coach want him to do it? How about the owner and GM? 

“There’s just a lot of variables,” Fipp said. 

Yeah, there sure are. 

For what it’s worth, Fipp said he thinks Jackson “definitely wants to have some kind of role in it.” Fipp said he and Jackson have a good relationship from their time together during the 2013 season. But Fipp’s first year in Philly was Jackson’s last. 

In 2013, Jackson returned 14 punts for 71 yards (an average of 5.1 yards per return), but led the team in punt returns, ahead of Damaris Johnson (12). Fipp said they probably had Jackson doing too much in 2013. 

So that begs the question: How much will Jackson be used in that role this year? 

Because in his three years since leaving Philadelphia from his first stint, Jackson returned a total of eight punts in three years — three in Washington in 2014 and 2015 and five with the Bucs in 2018. While Jackson is thought of as a great return man, he hasn’t hit 20 returns in a season since 2010, his third year in the league. 

Through his first three NFL seasons, Jackson was an elite punt returner. He returned 99 punts for 1,112 yards (11.2 per return) with four touchdowns. Since then, Jackson has 40 returns for 201 yards (5.0) and no touchdowns.

Still, if the game’s on the line and — I don’t know — the Giants are about to punt the ball away, I’d imagine No. 10 is going to be the man back there to get it. 

If Jackson isn’t returning punts this year, Fipp offered up a list of potential candidates:

Boston Scott: The stout running back has a good shot at making the roster and being a return man, but Fipp said Scott has plenty to prove. Basically, the Eagles want to see how he looks this preseason, catching punts in games. 

DeAndre Thompkins: The rookie from Penn State is a speedster with a history as a returner, but he seems like a long shot to make the team as a fifth or sixth receiver.  

Donnel Pumphrey: Yeah, he’s still around. The former fourth-round pick would need to make the team to return punts and that doesn’t seem likely right now. But if he has a tremendous training camp, anything is possible. 

Corey Clement: To be fair, Fipp didn’t bring up Clement on his own; he was asked. Clement returned a few punts in 2018 and was shaky. Fipp said Clement is more of an “emergency” fit at punt returner. 

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Popular former Eagles special teams player Chris Maragos announces his retirement

Popular former Eagles special teams player Chris Maragos announces his retirement

After missing all of last season and recently undergoing a third surgery for a significant knee injury suffered in 2017, former Eagles special teams captain Chris Maragos officially announced his retirement on Tuesday afternoon.

Maragos, 32, suffered a torn PCL on Oct. 12, 2017, and hasn’t played since. The Eagles officially released him in February.

Here is the announcement from Maragos:

Unfortunately, his time in the NFL was cut short by the injury against the Panthers in Week 6 of 2017. But he had a pretty good and improbable career.

After a couple years at Western Michigan, Maragos transferred to Wisconsin to continue his college career as a wide receiver. But in 2008, Badgers then-head coach Bret Bielema watched a play in which Maragos tracked down a defensive back after an interception and moved him to defense immediately and it stuck. Maragos played defensive back for his final two college seasons.

After going undrafted in 2010, Maragos played three games with the 49ers before carving out a role with the Seahawks for three seasons, from 2011-13. He joined the Eagles in 2014 and almost immediately became a difference maker on special teams and eventually became a special teams captain. For part of his time in Philly, he even had a significant role on defense, but he’ll be remembered for his contributions on special teams.

During his NFL career, Maragos played in 99 games (53 with the Eagles) with three starts. He was a part of two Super Bowl winners. Even though he was on the shelf with his knee injury by the time the Eagles played in Super Bowl LII, he was an important part of that team. He was one of the leaders of the injured group that included Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles.

Even last season, Maragos was still around the team, offering a veteran voice for some younger players.

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How important will deep threat DeSean Jackson be for Eagles in 2019 season?

How important will deep threat DeSean Jackson be for Eagles in 2019 season?

In DeSean Jackson, the Eagles have a legitimate deep threat. 

The 32-year-old led the NFL in yards per reception last season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with 18.9 and now, he's back in the city where he began his career.

How important will Jackson be for the Eagles this year?

With training camp approaching, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss Jackson's role and how integral he might be in the video above.

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