September 17 Philadelphia Daily News:
“The thing about kick coverage is, you can’t really practice it.
Well, you can, sort of, by having guys jog toward one another and then directing one guy this way or that, but in the NFL, nobody lines up players and runs them into one another at full speed in a kick return rehearsal. So when your return coverage struggles, the way the Eagles’ did all through the preseason and in last Sunday’s season opener (31.2-yard average on Green Bay’s five returns), fixing it can be tricky.
“Well, we just try to do a better job detailing what they have to do,” special teams coordinator Bobby April said yesterday, as the Birds prepared for Sunday’s visit to Detroit. “There’s a short presentation, and it’s not all day, it’s not every day [when] we can meet with these players. There’s ways to improve by me being better in presenting the information, maybe a little sharper, crisper practice, maybe a little more drill work on specifics that we’re not doing well, like getting off blocks.”
April will change his group at least a little. If Omar Gaither has to start for Stewart Bradley at middle linebacker, as expected, Gaither won’t have to cover kickoffs, but as April noted, “we pretty much have the same personnel, and we’ve got to get the personnel better.”
Linebacker and kick-coverer Moise Fokou said: “We’ve just got to step it up. I think it’s really a want-to, a mindset pretty much.”
Last week, Fokou said, “guys found themselves out of position a little bit. [The Packers] did a good job of picking up our rushes . . . you’ve got to just whip a man and make a play out there, on special teams. It’s the first play on defense, and pretty much the hardest play on defense.”
The Eagles actually started out doing well in their coverage last week, giving up only 16 and 21 yards on their first two kickoffs. The final three, though, the Packers brought back an average of 39.67 yards.
Corner and kick-coverer Joselio Hanson said: “Everybody has to do their own job. I think guys are getting down there [in time], but we can be a little tougher, and we can make smarter decisions when we get down there.””
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