Boykin, Johnson Start Off As Returners

Eagles cornerback Brandon BoykinThe Eagles’ selection of Brandon Boykin in the fourth round of April’s draft made sense on a couple different levels.

For starters, he is expected to compete for the nickel corner job, currently occupied by Joselio Hanson. But also, Boykin can give the Eagles a much-needed boost in their return game, which was horrible in 2011.

According to Football Outsiders’ rankings, the Eagles ranked 24th on kickoff returns and 27th on punt returns. They don’t plan on using DeSean Jackson as the primary punt returner this season, although he isn’t being phased out completely.

“I want him to concentrate on the receiving end of it,” Reid said. “And most of all, we think we have guys that can contribute there and be effective, and that are explosive players. Now we have to see.”

Boykin’s one of those guys. Reid said he’s the primary kickoff returner for now. Boykin has also returned punts in the past (check out video below), but undrafted free agent Damaris Johnson will handle those to start off. It’s impossible to tell much of anything about how the returners look at practice, but that’s certainly something to keep an eye on when the preseason kicks off.

Meanwhile, Reid said Hanson is ahead of Boykin right now at the nickel corner spot, but he expects the rookie to compete for that job.

“I expect him to try to do that, but I’ll tell you, Joselio, one of his strengths is he knows what he’s doing,” Reid said. “And so Boykin’s got to put his nose to the grinder and make sure he learns and competes and challenges him, and I think he’ll do that.”

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

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