NFL Philadelphia Eagles

Damaris Johnson vs. DeSean Jackson: Which Philadelphia Eagle Should Handle Punt Returns?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

During the first four years of Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson’s NFL career, he was arguably the single most feared punt returner in all of professional football.

There was literally no game-plan capable of keeping Jackson from hot-dogging his way into the end-zone after a long return, except for flat-out keeping the ball out of his hands. But still, week after week, naive punters would boot the ball right to Jackson without realizing that their best kicks with the most impressive hang-times were still no match for the Eagles’ specialist.

The cherry on top of Jackson’s exceptional punt-returning exploits was a comeback-sealing, game-winning, absolutely incredible 65-yard touchdown take-back against the New York Giants with time expiring in Week 15 of the 2010 season, which will forever be fondly remembered as the “Miracle at the New Meadowlands.”

But after four seasons as the Eagles’ punt return-man, where he tallied four touchdowns and an incredible 15 returns of over 20 yards, Jackson’s duties were stripped away from him.

Following the 2012 NFL Draft, the Eagles nabbed WR Damaris Johnson out of the University of Tulsa as an undrafted free agent, who is the all-time NCAA career leader in kick return yardage and all-purpose yardage. Johnson also shattered multiple single-game and single-season return records for Tulsa.

Needless to say, the Eagles decided that Johnson would be more than capable of taking over punt returning duties, so that Jackson could focus on his deteriorating receiving numbers. But surprisingly, Johnson made absolutely no impact in the return game throughout the entire 2012 season, except for one 98-yard punt return touchdown in garbage time against the Dallas Cowboys.

So while Jackson returned just one punt this past season for -3 yards, I think that the Eagles should give the burner another shot at his former forte in the 2013 season.

Even if the Eagles decide to keep Johnson as the squad’s primary return-man, they should without a doubt pepper Jackson into the mix in order to see what he can do in some exhilarating cameo appearances.

 

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