Cody Parkey began the season by sailing a go-ahead field goal against the Atlanta Falcons with less than three minutes to go wide to the right. After Parkey was lost for the season with a torn groin, Caleb Sturgis was brought in and misfired on an extra point and 33-yarder in what wound up being a three-point loss to the Washington Redskins in Week 3.
There was nothing special about the normally reliable Philadelphia Eagles special teams in 2015.
Parkey and Sturgis will battle throughout the summer for the starting kicking job. Parkey’s 150 points set an NFL rookie scoring record in 2014. He banged a quartet of 50-plus yard field goals through the uprights and connected on 32-of-36 overall. His field goal percentage of 88.9 was eighth best in the league and that rookie campaign led to a Pro Bowl nod. He beat incumbent kicker Alex Henery out in the preseason when he nailed a 53 and 54-yard field goal, respectively, against the New York Jets in the finale. But Parkey’s season-ending injury last year paved the way for Sturgis, who rebounded after a tough start to nail 18 of his 22 attempts.
Donnie Jones’ job should be safe. The 36-year-old is entering his fourth season with the Birds and averaged 47.0 yards per punt in 2015 with a net of of 41.6. He pinned opponents inside the 20 29 times to go with eight touchbacks.
Darren Sproles, who has made the last two Pro Bowls as a punt returner, will return to that role this year. He averaged 11.7 yards per return and took two back for touchdowns last season after averaging 13.0 yards with a pair of scores the year prior. Will Josh Huff continue to bring back kickoffs, or will that role be handed over to Kenjon Barner, who shined as a returner in the preseason last season. Huff gained 23.7 yards per return in 2015.
Another thing to watch out for in camp regarding late-round rookies, undrafted first-year players and second-year talents are how they perform in coverage on special teams. It could mean the difference between making the roster, practice squad and not having a job for the upcoming season.