Mack Hollins

Eagles rookie report: Barnett gets on the board; Hollins comes up clutch

Eagles rookie report: Barnett gets on the board; Hollins comes up clutch

The rookies were active early and often in the Eagles' 28-23 win in Carolina on Thursday night (see breakdown).

First-rounder Derek Barnett got on the sack board with a half-sack, WR Mack Hollins came up in the clutch and CB Rasul Douglas had an eventful night.

Here are a few highlights from Thursday's huge win.

1st quarter, 9:07, 1st-and-10 at CAR 49 - Eagles 0, Panthers 0
Hollins recorded two receptions late but made a big block early on. The rookie receiver is lined up to the left and tight to the line. LeGarrette Blount is running off tackle to that side. Veteran safety Jairus Byrd reads the play well and creeps up to the line of scrimmage. Hollins comes across Byrd's face and puts him on the ground with a nice block. Hollins' effort springs Blount for a 14-yard run.

1st quarter, 7:02, 4th-and-7 at CAR 32 - Eagles 0, Panthers 0
How good has Jake Elliott been? Well, even a poor snap couldn't stop him. Long snapper Rick Lovato snaps the ball off to the right. Punter/holder Donnie Jones does a tremendous job reaching to his right and still putting down a perfect hold. Elliott does an excellent job not losing his focus and nails a 50-yarder to give the Eagles an early lead (see 10 observations).

2nd quarter, 10:34, 1st-and-10 at CAR 16 - Eagles 3, Panthers 3
Welcome to the NFL, Rasul Douglas. The Panthers use a ton of motion, which is effective because of playmakers like rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel and, of course, former league MVP Cam Newton. With both rookies in the backfield, Newton runs a triple option. With Vinny Curry crashing hard on McCaffrey going up the middle, Newton keeps it and gets 10 yards down the field before he even sees a defender. The defender he sees is Douglas, whom Newton fakes out of his cleats for a 16-yard score.

2nd quarter, 6:34, 3rd-and-5 at CAR 14 - Panthers 10, Eagles 3
Payback! In reality, Fletcher Cox makes this play by ferociously collapsing the pocket and forcing Newton to throw it up for grabs (more on Cox here). Douglas still has to be alert enough to know the ball is in the air and has reliable hands to come down with the ball. One of the easiest picks Douglas will ever get, but he still had to pull it in.

3rd quarter, 12:18, 1st-and-goal at PHI 5 - Eagles 18, Panthers 10
One of Carolina's biggest assets is its big receivers. On this play, Newton is looking for former first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin on a fade route. This plays right to Douglas' strength as a tall, long corner. The throw could've been better by Newton, but Douglas is in perfect position and makes a play on the ball. This was a big play. The Panthers would eventually have to settle for a field goal.

3rd quarter, 10:37, 2nd-and-10 at PHI 43 - Eagles 18, Panthers 13
Hollins makes his first of two big catches. On this play, the Eagles are lined up with trips to the right with Hollins being the receiver on the line. Nothing fancy here. Hollins runs an in and pulls in a huge 18-yard reception on third down. This play eventually led to a field goal.

3rd quarter, 1:21, 3rd-and-16 at PHI 18 - Eagles 21, Panthers 13
If the play on the field goal drive was big, this play was critical. On 3rd-and-forever, Carson Wentz does what he's done all season: stand up in the face of pressure and delivers an on-target throw to convert. Again, nothing fancy here by Hollins. Just a solidly run 20-yard in route. The rookie hauls it in for a big first down. This play led to the deciding touchdown (see report card).

4th quarter, 4:23, 2nd-and-10 at CAR 47 - Eagles 28, Panthers 23
This had to feel great for Barnett. Funny enough, after winning so many battles and coming up empty, Barnett loses early on this down. But as he's done all season, he doesn't give up on the play. The coverage is solid and Barnett is able to grab Newton's leg from behind. The rookie holds on for dear life and brings down one of the toughest QBs in the league to corral. 

Analysis
Six games in and the monkey is off Barnett's back. Really, it was only a matter of time. Two plays later, Barnett pressured Newton into a bad throw that was almost picked off by Douglas. Hopefully the sack (technically a half-sack) was the first of many for the 21-year-old.

Hollins looks like he's going to be a solid pro. As mentioned, he didn't do anything earth-shattering on either catch, but he ran the right route and secured the catch. That's more than can be said for some of the receivers that have come through here recently. 

Of course Newton made Douglas look silly on that TD, but Newton has done that to many DBs. It was another solid performance from the rookie overall. He nearly had a second pick later in the game. He led the nation in interceptions last season, so it's not a coincidence that this kid is always around the ball.

And ho-hum, Elliott nailed two more field goals (50, 48). Bye, Caleb Sturgis.

Rookie WR Mack Hollins seizing opportunity with Eagles

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Rookie WR Mack Hollins seizing opportunity with Eagles

Turns out that Mack Hollins is much more than a deep threat.

Hollins, the Eagles' rookie fourth-round pick from North Carolina, recorded the first three receptions of his brief NFL career Sunday in Kansas City, with second-half catches of 11, 8 and 13 yards from Carson Wentz in the Eagles' loss to the Chiefs.

Hollins, who got just five offensive snaps in the opener in Washington, earned 17 snaps against the Chiefs and made the best of his chances. Will be interesting to see what this leads to against the Giants Sunday at the Linc and moving forward.

“I think it went well for my opportunities, but as a player your goal is always to win," Hollins said.

"I’d rather have zero catches in a win than a bunch in a loss, but it’s a start. It’s a situation that (receivers coach Mike) Groh has been preparing me for since I got here. Prepare like you’re going to be in the game, so if you do go in, there’s no dropoff. 

"That was my plan when I got my opportunity. Just try to execute as well as I can."

All of Hollins' snaps so far have come in two- or three-wide sets filling in for Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor or Torrey Smith. He said he doesn't know if the increase in reps will continue.

“Really, whatever coach wants," he said. "If it goes to zero snaps this week and we win the game, then I played my role in what our goal as a team is to do, and that’s to win games. I’m ready for whatever coach (Dave) Fipp, coach (Pederson) and coach Groh throw at me. I’m ready to go."

At North Carolina, Hollins was known mainly as a deep threat. He led the NCAA with 24.8 yards per catch as a junior. From 2014 through 2016, his 20.6 yards-per-catch average was fourth-highest in Division I (just behind Shelton Gibson).

But he's shown since he got here he's much more than that.

“That’s something people have assumed since I was at Carolina," he said. "But I’ve been working at routes since I was at Carolina and I’ve been able to run routes since I was at Carolina. Obviously, I’m not the best route runner because you can only get better, so I’m always working on my routes. 

"But I think people assume I’m only a deep threat since that's  primarily what I was at Carolina, but I can do more than that. I’m more than just a one-trick pony."

At UNC last year, Hollins was overshadowed by Ryan Switzer, who caught 96 passes for 1,112 yards, and Bug Howard, who caught 53 for 827.

The Cowboys drafted Switzer in the fourth round, but he doesn't have any catches the first two weeks. Howard was in training camp with the Colts but didn't make the team.

“We had one of the best receiving corps in the country with me Bug and Switz and we were able to have Switz underneath and me take the top off," Hollins said. "If it works, do it, and it worked."

The most impressive thing about Hollins has been his comfort level. He really carries himself like a veteran, and on Sunday at Arrowhead, he played like a veteran.

“Had a little butterflies but once I get a snap on special teams or offense, they go away," he said. "It’s football. We’re all here for a reason. They’re good players, we’re good players. So just be confident in your skill set, and I am."

Eagles rookie report: Derek Barnett, Rasul Douglas, Mack Hollins make impact vs. Chiefs

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Eagles rookie report: Derek Barnett, Rasul Douglas, Mack Hollins make impact vs. Chiefs

The second edition of our weekly rookie report is much more robust, with six first-year players taking the field in the Eagles' 27-20 loss to the Chiefs (see breakdown).

Just like last week, first-round pick Derek Barnett saw the most action. But unlike last week, he wasn't the only rookie to make an impact. CB Rasul Douglas and WR Mack Hollins also did some damage despite the loss.

We look at the most notable plays from Barnett, Douglas, Hollins, DT Elijah Qualls, RB Corey Clement and K Jake Elliott.

1st quarter, 11:31, 3rd-and-4 at PHI 16 - Eagles 0, Chiefs 0
Jim Schwartz, as he did for much of the day, did a great job disguising this look. The Eagles show blitz and Chris Long is standing up like an outside linebacker on the left. Barnett is lined up on the right against former first-overall pick Eric Fisher. Barnett beats Fisher to the end outside, showing off his outstanding bend, but he slips a little coming off the edge. Still, he helps collapse the pocket around Alex Smith who throws an incompletion to Travis Kelce.

1st quarter, 1:29, 2-and-10 at PHI 41 - Eagles 3, Chiefs 3
Rookie running back Kareem Hunt took the ball off tackle to the right while Smith fakes the option. Barnett, unblocked on the backside, stays disciplined on the option fake and keeps contain on Smith. Once he recognizes that Hunt has the ball, he busts it down the line to hold Hunt to a two-yard gain. For the second week in a row, Barnett makes a Brandon Graham-esque play (see Roob's 10 observations).

1st quarter, 0:43, 3-and-8 at PHI 39 - Eagles 3, Chiefs 3
On the very next play, Barnett nearly records his first NFL sack. Nigel Bradham shows blitz and comes right up the gut at Smith. Barnett again beats Fisher to the outside. As Smith is flushed out of the pocket by Bradham, Barnett gets a hand on Smith's foot but is unable to bring down the Chiefs' quarterback. 

2nd quarter, 9:27, 2nd-and-6 at KC 34 - Eagles 3, Chiefs 3
A rookie other than Barnett saw action and made an impact play. Douglas was inserted into the lineup when Jaylen Watkins, who surprisingly started outside at corner, left the game with a hamstring injury. On his first snap, Douglas is lined up against the super dangerous Tyreek Hill (Uh oh). But Douglas held his own and then some. The Chiefs run a quick hitch to Hill and Douglas reads the play and tackles Hill immediately after the catch (see report card). This aggressive kind of play is what Schwartz loves and what the Eagles saw out of Douglas at West Virginia.

2nd quarter, 6:36, 2nd-and-11 at KC 41 - Eagles 3, Chiefs 3
On this play, Mychal Kendricks comes on a delayed blitz on the right side. Barnett, lined up on that side, beats Fisher yet again. That allows Kendricks to come in untouched and take Smith down. Again, like Graham, Barnett may not always have gaudy sack numbers, but he'll certainly affect plays.

3rd quarter, 7:42, 1-and-10 at PHI 37 - Chiefs 6, Eagles 3
Yet another rookie making a play. Hollins is lined up on the outside to the right in a three-wide set. Wentz looks left and then comes back to the right to hit Hollins for an 11-yard gain. Hollins ran an excellent hitch route and beats All-Pro corner Marcus Peters. Hollins' speed and size make him such a tough cover.

This play was part of a big touchdown drive. Hollins then made a nice, special teams tackle on the ensuing kickoff.

4th quarter, 14:17, 2-and-5 at KC 38 - Chiefs 13, Eagles 10
All of the sudden it became the Mack Hollins show. Lined up in the slot this time, Hollins actually slips coming off the line of scrimmage. Hollins recovers nicely and finishes his out route. Wentz then hits him along the sideline for a 13-yard gain. It's another excellent route by Hollins, who made an eight-yard grab on the very next play.

4th quarter, 11:14, 3-and-4 at KC 40 - Chiefs 13, Eagles 13
Had the Eagles won this game, this would've been a huge turning point. The Eagles had just tied the game. With a chance to make Kansas City go three-and-out, Douglas comes up big. Lined up in the slot against Albert Wilson, Douglas gets a decent jam on Wilson, but Wilson breaks away enough on a slant for Smith to attempt a throw to him. Douglas is right on Wilson's hip and is able to get a hand on the football. If Douglas doesn't deflect the pass, Wilson might've been running for awhile. 

Analysis
For as much flak as the Eagles' draft class took before and after Week 1, the rookies made a pretty big impact against a very good team. 

Barnett couldn't quite get home, but he's shown the elite bend and relentless pursuit that made him such an attractive pick at No. 14. He was able to beat a decent left tackle in most of their matchups. It's worth noting that pass rushers have historically struggled to record big sack numbers in their rookie season, but that doesn't mean Barnett can't be a difference maker. 

Douglas was probably the guy that impressed me most. Playing against the likes of the speedy Hill and WR Chris Conley, this seemed like a tough week for Douglas' debut. But Douglas acquitted himself just fine. He wasn't beaten over the top and made a few aggressive plays on the ball. A fine debut.

When the Eagles drafted Hollins, the experts lauded his special teams' prowess. While his ability there has shown, he proved today that that's not the sole reason the team took him in the fourth round. Hollins finished with three catches on three targets for 32 yards. If he continues to polish off his route running, look out.

I didn't want to get too in depth about a rookie kicker, but it's worth mentioning that Elliott went 2 of 3 in his first NFL game. He missed a chip shot at the end of the first half after he was iced by Andy Reid but recovered nicely in nailing a 40-yarder right down the middle in the fourth quarter.