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Eagles Notes | New hand guiding special-teams unit

Eagles Notes One of the things you have to get used to at this Eagles minicamp is the sight of somebody other than John Harbaugh running the special-teams portion of practice.

Eagles Notes

One of the things you have to get used to at this Eagles minicamp is the sight of somebody other than

John Harbaugh

running the special-teams portion of practice.

That job had belonged to Harbaugh since the 1998 season, when he was hired by Eagles head coach Ray Rhodes. When Andy Reid took over the next season, Harbaugh was retained as the special-teams coordinator, and he remained in that position for nine straight seasons.

Harbaugh is still in camp, but he's now coaching the secondary while Rory Segrest takes charge of the special teams. As he came off the field at the end of practice Saturday, Harbaugh was asked if he was going through withdrawal.

"I've got the shakes," he said.

Segrest, in his second season with the Eagles after assisting with special teams a year ago, said he is still leaning on Harbaugh for information.

"I learned a lot from Harbaugh last year," Segrest said. "It was a great opportunity being able to work with him. With what he has to offer, it would be crazy for me not to go into his office and bother him as much as I can. I am constantly in his ear, and we are always kicking around ideas. We just want to be the best unit we can be, so whatever it takes to get that done."

The Eagles have plenty of room for improvement and some new faces in key places on special teams. A year ago, they ranked 22d in the league in kickoff returns and averaged just 6.3 yards per punt return. They were a respectable ninth in the league in kickoff coverage, but Dirk Johnson finished 29th in the league with a 34.9 net punting average.

Jeremy Bloom, who missed all of last season with a hamstring injury, will get a chance to improve the return game. The hope is that either Bloom or free-agent addition Bethel Johnson can provide an upgrade over the departed Reno Mahe.

"We want to be more explosive and create more big plays," Segrest said. "We were solid last year with Reno. He's a guy who made good decisions and fielded the ball extremely well. He could make the first guy miss and get 10, 11 yards. He wasn't the guy who you would consistently count on to take it the distance."

Segrest said Bloom looks much better this year than he did at this time a year ago, when he was trying to get into football shape after sitting out two straight seasons because he was not eligible to play at the University of Colorado.

Johnson, meanwhile, has been sidelined by a stress fracture in his leg during this minicamp and it's unknown when he'll be ready to return to the field.

No comparison

Offensive coordinator

Marty Mornhinweg

was asked to compare free-agent addition

Kevin Curtis

to the man he is replacing, free-agent departure

Donté Stallworth


"They both run fast," Mornhinweg said. "However, they're a little bit different. There's not a very good comparison there."

Mornhinweg likes what he has seen from Curtis, who caught 60 passes for 801 yards and six touchdowns two years ago when he made nine starts for the St. Louis Rams because of an injury to teammate Isaac Bruce.

"Kevin is very disciplined, very dependable, an excellent route runner, catches the ball very well and has that speed that definitely shows on the practice field," Mornhinweg said.

Extra points

Wide receiver

Reggie Brown

remained out of practice while recovering from the bruised knee he suffered during Saturday's morning practice. . . . Punter

Saverio Rocca

attempted a 40-yard drop kick during the afternoon practice that sailed wide right. The distance was still impressive. . . . The Eagles will close this minicamp with just one practice today. . . . Milwaukee Brewers outfielder

Kevin Mench,

an Eagles season-ticket holder and Wilmington native, planned to attend this morning's practice. The Brewers are in town to play the Phillies.

- Bob Brookover