Eagles

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside reflects on tough rookie year: 'Nowhere to go but up'

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside reflects on tough rookie year: 'Nowhere to go but up'

It was bad enough that J.J. Arcega-Whiteside barely made a ripple in his rookie season.

What made it a million times worse is that two guys the Eagles bypassed when they drafted JJAW — the Redskins' Terry McLaurin and the Seahawks' D.K. Metcalf — both killed the Eagles.

McLaurin had the two biggest games against the Eagles – 125 yards in September, 130 yards in December. He’s the first rookie ever with two 125-yard games against the Eagles.

And Metcalf wasn’t far behind. He was only 3-for-35 in the first Seahawks game but 7-for-160 Sunday with a 58-yard touchdown.

McLaurin and Metcalf both had more yards against the Eagles this year than Arcega-Whiteside had against the entire league.

Not good.

On Sunday, while Metcalf was shattering Jeremy Maclin’s NFL postseason record for receiving yards by a rookie, JJAW played just 12 snaps and didn’t have a catch (one reception was negated by a penalty).

Obviously, I didn’t want them to win, but I was glad that he had the game that he did,” Arcega-Whiteside said of Metcalf. “I’m never going to hate on anybody’s success because if anybody knows how hard it is to succeed it’s me, so I’ll never hate on that. But at the same time I wish it wasn’t against us.

The Eagles selected Arcega-Whiteside with the 57th pick in the draft. Metcalf went to the Seahawks at No. 64 and McLaurin to Redskins at No. 76.

While the Eagles’ other second-round pick, Miles Sanders, was busy leading all NFL rookies in scrimmage yards, JJAW caught just 10 passes for 169 yards.

At one point he went six straight games without a catch. The last five games of the season he had two catches.

“I could have done a lot of things better, but I got one under my belt and there ain’t no where to go but up from here,” he said. “I’ll work this offseason to become the player I know I can be for this team. Just have to go out there and do it.”

Last time an Eagles wide receiver drafted in the first or second round had fewer yards in a season was 1990, when 2nd-round pick Mike Bellamy didn't catch a pass.

What made JJAW’s lackluster rookie year even worse was how desperately the Eagles needed him.

By the end of the season he was literally the only wideout on the roster who didn’t come from the practice squad.

Yet he could barely get on the field.

I know I can play,” he said Monday. “I know I can be that player. It would be different if I was standing in front of you saying, ‘I can’t do it, I can’t be that guy.’ I know I can be. It’s going to be about patience and about hard work and when that hard work is going to pay off. That’s for everybody. We all work hard and we want the results to happen now. Sometimes it doesn’t work out like that, but you have to keep going.

What went wrong?

“I can’t pinpoint exactly one thing,” he said. “It’s not the want-to, I’ll tell you that. It’s not the hard work. I put in a lot of hard work, a lot of extra hours in, and it didn’t pay off right now, but eventually it will.”

There were moments.

He had a 30-yard catch in the first Seattle game, a 29-yarder against the Patriots, a 27-yarder against Dallas and a 22-yarder in the first Giants game.

But those encouraging moments were few and far between and overshadowed by moments like the costly drop at the goal-line against the Lions.

S**t, you get thrown in the fire, you’re going to either burn or you’re going to claw your way out, and I didn’t burn, that’s for sure,” he said. “I learned a lot. The rest of my life I can say I went through a lot and came out the other side better and now I feel like I can take on any challenge and any adversity because I feel like I’ve gone through some of the lowest of the lows as a professional athlete, and I’ve experienced some highs, too. And as a rookie what else could you want?

Arcega-Whiteside said he’ll go back to Palo Alto to train this offseason and try to recapture “the things that made me the player I was at Stanford.”

He needs to find whatever was missing or his Eagles career is going to be a short one.

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Rodney McLeod explains biggest lessons learned from Malcolm Jenkins

Rodney McLeod explains biggest lessons learned from Malcolm Jenkins

Four years ago, when Rodney McLeod became a free agent for the first time in his NFL career, one of the reasons he wanted to join the Eagles was for the chance to play next to Malcolm Jenkins. 

And for the last four years, he did. The two formed a safety tandem that played 49 regular season games and four playoff games, including Super Bowl LII, together. 

But now Jenkins is back in New Orleans with the Saints and the Eagles are preparing to play without him for the first time since 2013. Meanwhile, McLeod signed a two-year deal to return to Philly. 

On a conference call with reporters on Thursday, McLeod said he learned a lot from Jenkins over the past four seasons. 

What were some of those lessons? 

Just as a competitor,” McLeod said. “And then the ability to get the most out of guys, whether it’s on the defensive side or from an entire team standpoint. I think as a leader, that’s your kind of job. How can you get guys to play at the highest level and get the most out of your players. I think he was one of the best at doing that and understanding everyone … I learned a lot from him. 

“Not just on the field but off the field, the way he handled himself and what he did in the community for the city. I’ll always admire him. It’s hard to match. But like I said, his legacy will live on. The Saints are getting a good guy. Now, us as Eagles, playing with a new group of guys and we’re ready to move forward.

There’s no question that the Eagles are going to miss Jenkins’ contributions on the field. They will use some combination of Jalen Mills and Will Parks to replace him at that position and that won’t be easy. 

But the Eagles will also miss the leadership Jenkins brought to the locker room. He wasn’t just the leader of the secondary or even just the defense; Jenkins was oftentimes the key leader for the entire team. That’s hard to replace too. 

It’s not that McLeod, 29, hasn’t been a leader during his first four years in Philly. But now that role might need to expand and will become more important with the absence of Jenkins. 

“I think it’s important for me to be myself and be who I’ve always been,” McLeod said. “And that’s a guy that leads by his actions and leads by example. I think if you ask a lot of guys on the team, that’s what they’ll tell you most. Actions sometimes speak louder than words. I think there will be times for me to speak up when needed. When my teammates need me most, I’ll be ready to do that.”

For the most part, McLeod has been the quieter of the two safeties and Jim Schwartz has previously called him the calming presence in the defensive backfield.

But McLeod can speak up too. 

It’s really just about finding a balance between his two sides and putting the lessons from Jenkins into practice in 2020. 

“Myself, being a leader on this team for some time, will of course be asked to step up as well as other guys from a defensive standpoint and on the team,” McLeod said. “I think we’re prepared for that. And guys will be willing to step up to the plate and accept the challenge. Myself first and foremost.”

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Carson Wentz’s 3rd annual AO1 softball game canceled

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AO1 Foundation

Carson Wentz’s 3rd annual AO1 softball game canceled

Carson Wentz’s AO1 Foundation has canceled its 2020 softball game that was scheduled for May 8 at Citizens Bank Park. 

The foundation says the game will return in 2021. 

The AO1 Foundation said the following in a statement: 

“We canceled the game because we are taking the COVID-19 situation very seriously. We were looking forward to an event that brings the Philadelphia community together to have fun and help others, but the health and safety of our supporters is of utmost importance to us.”

All purchased tickets will be refunded. Expect it to take 5-7 business days for that credit to appear in accounts. If there are questions about the refund process, the AO1 Foundation asks you contact the Phillies at tickets@phillies.com. 

In the first two years, this softball game has raised $1.35 million for the AO1 Foundation, which launched in 2017. Last May, there were 15,000 fans at Citizens Bank Park. 

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