On Monday morning, tight end Anthony Denham was back home in Phoenix working out at a nearby park, waiting patiently for a phone call he didn’t know would come. He set up a ladder and cones and worked out that morning like he always does. But during the workout, his agent called.
A few days later, Denham was making catches in an NFL game.
“I went out there and played a great game from my standpoint,” Denham said late Thursday night. “From coming off the couch, I think that was kind of spectacular and I contributed to a great win.”
Denham caught three passes for 46 yards to lead the Eagles in receiving in Thursday’s 10-9 win over the Jets in the preseason finale.
And as crazy as it sounds, the 27-year-old has a real shot at making the 53-man roster. He’ll find out soon enough.
The Eagles are obviously going to keep Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert on the roster at tight end, and Richard Rodgers is probably going to be the third guy. But Rodgers has a knee injury that has him listed as “week to week.” After Thursday’s game, Rodgers was spotted with a heavy-looking black brace on his leg. So that means the Eagles might elect to keep four tight ends. And Denham inserted himself into that conversation mighty quickly.
“I’m not taking away from anybody who’s been here from OTAs, from Day 1,” Denham said. “I don’t know if I do have a shot. I just know that I had an opportunity tonight and that’s what I took advantage of. I can’t think of anything in the future except for what I have to control, and that was this game now. Just leave it up to the coaches and hopefully I made their decision hard. If I stick around, good. If I don’t, I had a great game.”
Denham was with the Eagles on the practice squad in 2016 and was with them last summer, so at least he knew the offense. But to go from working out by himself in a park in Phoenix to playing in an NFL game — and catching three passes! — within a few days, is pretty remarkable.
Of course, his conditioning was the first thing he worried about. His agent stressed the question to Denham when he called: “Are you really going to be able to play in an NFL game in a few days?” And Denham had to think about it.
But by the time he finished his workout on Monday, he was sure. He knew he could; he called his agent back and told him. So he took a nap that afternoon, got to the airport about an hour before his 10:30 p.m. red-eye flight to Philly and caught another nap on the floor of the plane. Denham got to Philly on Tuesday morning, passed a physical, and then got on the field for his one and only practice before Thursday’s game.
Denham commended his new/old teammates for their encouragement. He said he was sucking for air and they kept cheering him on.
“That gave me fuel and I kept riding the wave and kept thinking about what I needed to do each play,” he said. “It kind of allowed me to focus on, 'I’m not tired.' Because if I’m tired, I’m out of here.”
Denham will know his fate soon enough. It’s pretty amazing he even has a small shot of making the roster. If he pulled this off, it would be incredible.