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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Full Circle For Return Game With Mahe Back

No more taking chances. The Eagles tried that on Sunday and the results were, well, you know. The Eagles wanted to restore order to the special teams, to the return game, and when they brought in Reno Mahe on Tuesday they saw that he was in shape, that he caught the ball well, that he ran fine and that he was excited for the opportunity to become an Eagle again.

This isn't the direction the Eagles intended to take when they laid out the internal plan in the off-season. The goal was to be more explosive in the return game. The team stated that clear as day. They wanted to make big plays and turn games around and dominate field position.

They hoped Jeremy Bloom would become that breakaway threat, but after a so-so preseason and a laundry list of nagging injuries, the Eagles concluded he wasn't the answer. And after Sunday's return-game mistakes, they turned to a familiar, reliable face in Mahe.

I will let Andy Reid explain how it works and why it worked this way and what the Eagles plan to do on special teams moving forward. He will have his press conference on Thursday. For now, the story is that Mahe is back after a football-free spring and summer, the first Mahe has had since he was too young to play football.

"It is great to be back, awesome," said Mahe. "To come back to a team that I love and an organization, a city that I love, I feel blessed about it. There was no anger or animosity when I left. For a time there, I thought it was over for me, that I could return but not as a football player.

"To have another chance, to come to play on Monday Night Football is a great feeling."

Mahe spent the down tmie between the end of the 2006 season and now first in Texas and then in Utah with his family. He invested wisely, very much so, in business. He attended the NFL's Business School Summitt at Stanford. He made a killing in hedge funds. He loved every second with his family.

But this is special for Mahe, who is here to, yeah, save the day on special teams.

"I'm just here to be a part of things. I know this is a great team and I know what I'm supposed to do," he said. "Missnig the spring, missing training camp, it was strange. I enjoyed being with the guys and being part of the organization. I didn't necessarily miss the grind of training camp, but that is where I made the team every year. I earned my spot on the team in training camp, so to not be there, I wanted to be part of it."

He is again, and that's fine. The unfortunate part in this desperate-times-call-for-desperate-measures move is that J.R. Reed lost his roster position. Reed is one of the guys you root for. He came a long way to get back on an NFL field, and here is to hoping he keeps working hard and keeps his dream alive.

For Mahe, for the Eagles on special teams, the next step is to make solid was was so leaky on Sunday. Mahe is here to be dependable and to provide a spark and to do the things he does. He lacks the big-time speed, he lacks the explosiveness and he isn't going to run over tacklers. But he has the quick feet and the great hands and the superb football IQ.

For Mahe and the return game to succeed, of course, more improvement must be made. The Eagles have to block better, eliminate the penalties, play with the appropriate aggressiveness. That Mahe is back is, if you think back to the spring, shocking. It wasn't supposed to work this way.

The Eagles had to stop the bleeding, though. They considered the rest of the field and, truthfully, Mahe was the candidate the Eagles felt best about. So he is here, and the page is turned with Mahe in the return game.

"I'm going to give it everything I have," said Mahe, who was in church during Sunday's game. "I'm in shape, and practice will get me into football shape. Monday night, I'll be ready to go. Sometimes in the NFL, you never realize it could end. Then something happens and you don't know if you will ever get another chance.

"I am going to make the most of this. You never know how long it will last. I'm excited to get it going again."

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