As the Eagles’ third running back, opportunities for Boston Scott on offense are sometimes hit or miss.
So he’s been making an impact in another area.
About a month ago, the Eagles gave Scott the opportunity to return kickoffs and he’s become a difference-maker as a return man.
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“I’m enjoying it,” Scott said. “I’m just happy to be able to contribute.”
Scott, of course, made sure to point out several times that he’s just one of 11 players on that kick return unit and it takes all of them to bust out big returns. But it’s Scott with the ball in his hands and it’s Scott who has one of the highest return averages in the NFL.
After a 66-yard return against the Giants two weeks ago and a 58-yarder in Chicago last week, Scott has now returned 12 kicks for 337 yards (28.1) in the last four games.
His average of 28.1 yards per return ranks second in the NFL among players with at least 10 attempts.
“It’s just about locking in on the details,” said receiver Zach Pascal, who blocks on kick return. “I don’t know about earlier in the season. I just know that right now we’re picking things up at the perfect time, coming into playoffs. Boston’s back there making plays every week. We just try to do our part to keep it going.”
While Britain Covey has found his groove as a punt returner, he was averaging just 20.6 yards per kick return this season. That ranks 29th among players with at least 10 attempts.
Earlier in the season, special teams coordinator Michael Clay said they went to Scott to provide some “juice” and that as certainly worked.
Sure, it’s not all about the returner, but the Eagles have clearly found their stride with Scott back there. And they’ve scored points after both of his big returns the last two weeks.
“I just feel that it takes time to kind of develop that synergy on a unit like kickoff return because it’s gotten progressively harder over the year,” Scott said. “I just feel like were on the same page and all the guys were doing their job.”
Newer rules in the NFL and kickers with bigger legs have certainly made it tougher to get big returns on kickoffs in the modern era.
For instance, the Eagles record for kick returns in a season belongs to Allen Rossum, who had 54 back in 1999. This year, the Eagles are on pace for under 33 in a 17-game season.
“It is a hard play,” Scott said. “ It used to be back in the day, you could put two offensive linemen together, tell them to yell as loud as they can and just run. Whoever gets in your way, drive them into the ground. But it’s not like that anymore. It’s 1-on1-s. Depending on the schemes, you got double teams here and there but it’s tough.
“There’s a lot of space for the coverage team to make moves and there’s twists and all kind of different games going on. Whenever big plays happen, it’s a unit thing. It’s not any individual or person.”
Scott said it’s way tougher to use his vision on kickoffs than it is as a running back. Because at least on an offensive play, he has an understanding of how it will be blocked up and the numbers are more manageable.
On a kickoff, it can become more of a free-for-all and there can be as many as 10 1-on-1s going on at the same time. It’s hard to react to all of that. But he’s been good at it.
What makes him so good on kick returns?
“You gotta use your speed, trust the scheme and try and make something happen,” Scott said. “I don’t want to give out too many of our bits of gold. But you just gotta use your speed and be deceptive.”
Whatever he’s doing, it’s working.
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