How Will Eagles Replace Jorrick Calvin in Return Game?

Written By Bob Cunningham On Friday, December 24, 2010

Hall is probably the best candidate to replace Calvin.

Outside of DeSean Jackson's miracle punt return against the New York Giants, the Eagles haven't had much luck with their return game this season.

Ellis Hobbs was supposed to be the guy returning kicks, but he got banged up and is now on Injured Reserve. Rookie Jorrick Calvin, acquired in a straight-up swap for Charles Scott with the Arizona Cardinals, had been the returner up to this point, but was recently placed on IR with an unspecified back injury.

As it stands, the Eagles have a couple options on the roster. Chad Hall and Jeremy Maclin have returned kicks before, but it's unlikely the team would want to put Maclin in harm's way like that if there was any way they could avoid it.

Hall appears to be a guy who could have some success returning kicks, but he had a difficult time actually fielding kicks during the preseason. He was able to do some things with the ball in his hands, but there were a couple muffs during training camp and the preseason.

Eldra Buckley and Jerome Harrison also have minimal experience and would be emergency options.

Putting Calvin on IR means they now have 52 players on the active roster, and there are a few different routes the team could go to fill that final spot.

The most obvious would be to sign a return specialist. Earlier in the week, according to Adam Caplan of FOX Sports, the Eagles worked out two former Pro Bowl returners in Justin Miller and Clifton Smith.

Miller is also a cornerback and Smith is a running back.

The problem with going that route is that neither is very good at their secondary position. But then again, neither was Calvin. He only saw the field on defense when the team had a huge lead or when it was absolutely necessary.

Andy Reid could also decide that he'd prefer to promote someone from the practice squad and hope Hall, Maclin, Buckley, or Harrison can handle the return duties for the remainder of the season.

Joique Bell was recently signed to the practice squad, as was Cornelius Ingram, but it's unlikely either would be brought up unless Reid was impressed with Bell's ability to play on the coverage teams during his first stint with the team.

Jeremy Williams, a wide receiver, could be a guy to watch out for as a potential sleeper to become the return guy. During his time at Tulane, he averaged over 24 yards per return and found the endzone on 29 attempts.

My preference would be to see Miller or Smith signed. Calvin did a good job on returns when he was given any blocking -- he had a couple big returns and would have a touchdown under his belt had it not been called back -- but Reid has ignored the need for a returner for too long.

With either Smith or Miller (preferred in that order), the Eagles have a legitimate threat for the opposing team's special teams to worry about.

But don't be surprised if we see Bell back on the active roster and a rotating door of kick returners a la 2007. It just wouldn't be like Reid to shore up the special teams when given the opportunity.

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