After a week and half of training camp, rookie WR Damaris Johnson has emerged as the front-runner to return punts and rookie CB Brandon Boykin is the leader to handle kickoff returns for the Eagles.

But, special teams coach Bobby April cautioned, it’s still early and things could change.

Making his job even tougher is teams can’t run live return drills, so April can’t evaluate his young players under fire until the preseason starts next week.

“We do know that both those kids have a body of work that we can refer to,’’ April said. “Not only do they have the speed and strength and skill to do the job, they’ve also proven that they can be productive doing it.’’

Johnson played just three seasons at Tulsa, but finished with almost 4,000 return yards. Boykin set school records at Georgia for kickoff returns (110), yards (2,663) and TDs (four).

April could have another problem -- outside of special teams, Johnson and Boykin are well down the depth chart and there’s no guarantee either will make the team.

Boykin has the best chance since he’s a fourth-round pick, but Johnson is an undrafted free agent and plays a position that has 13 players competing for maybe five spots.

Still, April has his fingers crossed that Johnson’s value as a returner will be enough to earn him a roster spot.

“The punt returner, especially, is critical,’’ April said. “The judgments he makes are going to affect the offense and the defense.”

For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Philadelphia Eagles from blogger Kevin Noonan, follow @CBSSportsNFLPHI.