By: JUSTIN KUNKEL
Two days after special teams miscues cost the Eagles the season opener in Green Bay, the team shored up its return game by re-signing Reno Mahe on Tuesday evening.
Mahe, a reserve running back for the Eagles from 2003 to 2006, led the NFL with an average punt return of 12.8 yards in 2005. During his career, he has returned 64 punts for the Eagles, averaging 9.4 yards per return.
Head coach Andy Reid said Monday that catching the ball was the most important thing for his returners going forward, and Mahe is a sure-handed option. He has fumbled on a punt return only once in his career.
To make room for Mahe on the roster, the Eagles released safety J.R. Reed. In his first-ever game as a punt returner and on his third opportunity of the game, Reed muffed a punt that was recovered by the Packers at the Eagles' 31-yard line with 59 seconds remaining in the game. The Packers won the game on a Mason Crosby 42-yard field goal with just six seconds left. In the first quarter, Greg Lewis fumbled a punt that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.
Mahe, who was living in Utah prior to his signing, jumped on a flight to Philadelphia early Tuesday morning and worked out for team personnel. He will not wear No. 34, as he did in his first stint as an Eagle. Fullback Jason Davis asked Mahe to keep his number.
Mahe made the team as an undrafted free agent in 2003 after an outstanding career as a wide receiver at BYU. The team quickly switched him to running back, and he found a niche in the return game, averaging 9.2 yards on six punt return opportunities. He became the teams full time-kickoff returner in 2006, averaging 22.23 yards on 30 returns.