PHILADELPHIA - If the Eagles' special teams were ever going to return a punt and/or a kickoff for a touchdown this season, Sunday's game against Detroit would appear to be their best opportunity.
As bad as the Eagles' coverage units have been, the Lions' have been worse. They surrendered both a punt return and a kickoff return for TDs in back-to-back games against Tennessee and Minnesota.
"I could see where somebody might think that," Eagles special-teams coordinator Bobby April said. "All I can say is it doesn't matter who we're playing. We're just trying to do the absolute best we can. The opponent really doesn't matter. We need to try to reach the summit in our play as early and as often as possible, regardless of who the opponent is."
The Eagles have been using a pair of rookies as returners with disappointing results.
Kickoff returner Brandon Boykin is ranked 24th in the NFL in kickoff returns with a 21.2-yard average. His longest return is 29 yards. Punt returner Damaris Johnson is 28th at 6.0 yards per return. Of the 30 other punt returners ranked, his long gain of 13 yards is the lowest in the league.
And April didn't sound too optimistic Thursday about either guy breaking out of his slump against the Lions.
"Are they close to breaking one? Probably not," April said. "I don't have much of a defense statistically, but I do believe in those guys. They can break one at any time. Those plays are like a thunderstorm. The ingredients kind of need to be in the right place and they'll break. You never know when it's going to happen."
If the right situation arises, there is a chance wide receiver DeSean Jackson could get some action as a punt returner. He has a 10.6-yard career average and has returned four punts for touchdowns for the Eagles.
His biggest return came in 2010, when he scored on a 65-yarder on the final play of the game to give the Eagles a 38-31 victory over the New York Giants.
"That's the coach's decision," Jackson said Thursday. "It's not up to me. But I'll do anything to help the team win. Punt returns are kind of my niche. I enjoy it. It's something I've been doing all my life."
Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins came in from practice to see a bouquet of roses from his wife, Pashun, at his locker.
"It's not our anniversary or anything," Jenkins said. "She was just being thoughtful."
Defensive ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole took photos and suggested the flowers were from the Lions' offensive line.
"Yeah, they were giving me a lot of flak for it," Jenkins said. "But I know it's not from the Lions. I had my share of run-ins with those guys over the years. They were probably glad when I left Green Bay."
Bumps and bruises
The Eagles reported no injuries Thursday and are expected to have everyone available to play against the Lions. Wide receiver Riley Cooper could make his season debut on special teams. He suffered a broken collarbone during training camp.
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