SO far I have yet to see a headline asking the question, so I decided to ask it myself. With K Caleb Sturgis being near automatic from 39 yards and in, but shaky from anything 40 yards and greater, should the Eagles decide to stick with and develop a rookie who has already set a franchise record, in just his second pro game?
Rookie K Jake Elliott was drafted by Cincinnati in the fifth round, but released due to missing “too many easy kicks” (and not for inadequate leg strength, as this website erroneously reported yesterday). Once Sturgis injured his hip, we needed a guy. So we grabbed Elliott off of Cincy’s Practice Squad. Given that Sturgis (on a one year deal) was never the long-term answer at K, this might all be falling neatly into place.
In fact, when you take an objective look at our Special Teams unit, you see age and lack of depth throughout. P Donnie Jones is in year 14, at age 37. RB/PR Darren Sproles just sustained two season- (and likely career) -ending injuries, but when he went down, WR Torrey Smith took over PR duty and returned the first punt of his career. We also allowed ace Special Teamer OLB Bryan Braman to walk this off-season, and kick coverage has certainly been affected.
This raises some interesting questions about the Eagles long-term Special Teams situation. Right now our most dangerous KR, is RB Wendell Smallwood. That could be an issue if he’s to play serious minutes on Offense. And do we really want our #2 WR returning punts, with almost zero experience?
My suggestion would be to develop Elliott. I’d also limit Smallwood’s Offensive snaps to keep him fresh for kick returns. I’d essentially swap him on the depth chart with RB Corey Clement.
Then I’d add an experienced PR, since we don’t have one on the roster. My thought? Bring back “preseason legend” WR Paul Turner. Hell, he’s even returned a punt for a touchdown, remember? I’d also add a young P with a history of playing QB (even high school), to the Practice Squad and develop him into a sort of Tom Tupa QB/P . (Showing my age on that one.)
That would roll a third string QB and a P, into one guy. That would also discourage opponents from aggressively trying to block any punts or field goals, that he was the holder for. Just a few things to think about, since Sunday was such a pivotal day for Special Teams here.