Dave Fipp said he only got a quick look at the miraculous onside kick recovery that allowed the Dallas Cowboys to complete their comeback against Atlanta on Sunday. He said his main thought was, “I’m glad it wasn’t us,” as Fipp watched Falcons players hover over the slowly rolling ball, apparently unaware they could field it before it went 10 yards though the kicking team could not.
The Eagles’ special teams coordinator has thought a lot, though, about the “watermelon kick” and whether it might be the answer to giving a team a decent chance at recovering an onside attempt under rules that changed in 2018. The kicking team no longer can have a running start, and players can’t be bunched the way they once were. Recovery percentages have nosedived, from 21 percent in 2017 to 12.7 percent last season.
“I think everybody has been exploring for that. We’ve actually hit that same kick, and practiced that stuff in the past,” Fipp said. He said Cincinnati, this week’s Eagles opponent, tried such a kick two seasons ago, but it died before going the required 10 yards.
“But, yeah, I think everybody is searching for ways, to find a way to recover those kicks. It’s obviously gotten challenging," Fipp said. "When you don’t have the running start, it makes it more difficult. Then having to have the five-by-five alignments. Not only that, but you also have to have them pretty much spaced out.”
Fipp noted an irony of Atlanta’s loss. “Atlanta, truth be told, has done a great job of recovering them with their onside team," he said.
Protected practice squadders
This week, the Eagles designated defensive back Grayland Arnold, wideout Deontay Burnett, center Luke Juriga, and defensive tackle T.Y. McGill as protected practice squad players, meaning other teams can’t sign them, and two of them are eligible to be added to the roster for Sunday’s game against the Bengals.