Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 8/10/12

Philadelphia special teams coordinator Bobby April, one of the best kicking-games coaches in the league, proclaimed during the offseason that the Eagles' return game, among the worst in the league in 2011, would be significantly better.

It's just one preseason opener, so no one should jump to any premature conclusions, but the early indications are that the additions of rookies Brandon Boykin (fourth round) and Damaris Johnson (undrafted free agent) will boost a return game that lagged in 2011.

Boykin, a former University of Georgia standout who established an SEC career record for kickoff return average and had four touchdowns in college, had a 46-yard runback on the opening kickoff. And he brought the ball back despite starting eight yards deep in the end zone.

"I've got great faith in my speed and my ability to make something happen," said Boykin, who compiled 89 yards on three returns.

Johnson wasn't quite as good on punts, but displayed his speed on a 70-yard scoring reception, and has also demonstrated in camp that he might be a game-breaker type of return man.

The Eagles ranked 31st in the NFL in kickoff returns in 2011 (20.9-yard average, with a long of only 33 yards) and were No. 27 in punt returns (7.1-yard average), and the two rookies might help April keep his promise.

Johnson's presence could also keep wide receiver DeSean Jackson from having to serve full-time on punt returns.

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