Dana Pennett O'Neil | Lewis is just one of several punt-return options

Posted: September 07, 2007

WHEN HE retires from football, Greg Lewis could make a living playing

Jimmy Dugan, the Tom Hanks character in "A League of their Own."

Parroting Hanks' instructions to his assembled female ballplayers, Lewis insisted yesterday that returning punts isn't all

that complicated.

"You catch the ball, you run with the ball," the wide receiver said.

So all that nonsense that

return specialists like to talk about, about staring down a bunch of guys barreling down the field to knock your head off?

"You catch the ball and go," Lewis reiterated. "Anybody who tells you they have a style, they're lying."

Whether Lewis' no-style style will be on display Sunday remains to be seen. Special-teams coordinator Rory Segrest said yesterday that the punt returner for the season opener hasn't been decided.

And just to make things interesting, Segrest tossed Brian Westbrook's name into the list

of possible candidates.

"We have some good options. It's just a matter of who we feel the best with at game time," said Segrest, who then ticked off the options as Lewis, recently reacquired J.R. Reed, Lito Sheppard and Westbrook.

Segrest said Westbrook is always available but whether his number would be called depended on game situations and just how busy Westbrook was with his other day job, namely being the offense.

"We could put him back there any time," Segrest said.

The odds are, Lewis will be the man whose name is called for the first punt. He has done the most work during the preseason, although that work

consisted of just two returns

for 20 yards.

After Lewis, the likely name next in the rotation would be Reed, who is making his third stop in Philly.

A specialist to Lewis' novice, Reed - who is expected to return kickoffs - is hardly offended that the job hasn't simply been handed to him.

"To me, it's exciting," he said. "If I get a chance to get back there, that means I've been given an opportunity. That's all

I'm thinking about."

Segrest didn't seem all that worried about the fact that he has a new punter, new holder and not a clear-cut punt returner just days before the season

begins. Perhaps he knows something we don't.

Or maybe like Lewis, he doesn't seem to think it's all

that complicated.

To tell the truth

In a building where news generally goes to die, Jim Johnson yesterday brought a rarity to the NovaCare Complex auditorium podium:

In a building where news generally goes to die, Jim Johnson yesterday brought a rarity to the NovaCare Complex auditorium podium:

Honesty.

Asked about his defense going into the season opener, the defensive coordinator said, "We're still a work in progress. We've got a lot of new people. It may take a game or two."

No spin, no sugarcoating, no sidestepping, just an honest

assessment about a unit that clearly still has question marks.

Here's hoping the higher-ups don't make him run wind sprints for it.

Six degrees of Eagle-dom

It's Vince Papale's fault.

It's Vince Papale's fault.

Or Vince Papale's inspiration.

It depends on whether you went to Michigan or one of the other 10 Big Ten schools if you want Papale tarred and feathered or canonized this week.

Before eradicating the maize and turning Michigan simply blue, Appalachian State got together as a team to watch "Invincible," Papale's publicist, Rich Burg, told us.

Duly inspired, the Mounties went out and made Michigan

Invisible.

Speaking of Ohio's second

favorite school, Dave Weinberg, the Eagles beat writer for The Press of Atlantic City, is an App State grad. Weinberg dug deep into the dresser drawer to find every piece of his alma mater's apparel he could find, taking

particular pleasure in showing his gear off to Jason Avant,

Michigan class of '06.

Weinberg also took his fair share of good-natured ribbing about the school in Boone, N.C. but had a pretty good response.

Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32.

Was that a joke?

Like the old art-in-the-dark professor who drew the blinds and threw up slides for Art

Like the old art-in-the-dark professor who drew the blinds and threw up slides for Art

History class at 8 a.m., Marty Mornhinweg has mastered the ability to lull his pupils into a

stupor by delivering his lectures, er, news conferences, in the driest, most monotone of fashions.

Think about the worst accounting professor you ever listened to. Now double it and you get the idea.

Which means when the offensive coordinator makes a funny, you can miss it.

Asked about Jon Runyan's

consecutive-game streak, which will reach 179 on Sunday, Mornhinweg said, "He's played when most regular people would be in the hospital."

One-liner

Despite Marty Mornhinweg's cleverness, the line of the week goes to Jim Johnson. Asked what he liked best about defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen and linebacker Pago Togafau, Johnson said, "Well, I like their names." *

Despite Marty Mornhinweg's cleverness, the line of the week goes to Jim Johnson. Asked what he liked best about defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen and linebacker Pago Togafau, Johnson said, "Well, I like their names." *

Send e-mail to oneild@phillynews.com

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