Eagles 2019 training camp battles: Filling out last receiver spot(s)
As we near the start of the Eagles’ 2019 training camp, we’re taking a closer look at some key position battles to watch this summer. We already looked at cornerback, running back, linebacker and defensive end.
Up today: Wide receiver
Names to know
Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Marken Michel, Charles Johnson, Greg Ward, Braxton Miller, DeAndre Thompkins, Carlton Agudosi
What to watch
The Eagles have 12 receivers on their 90-man roster and at least half of them aren’t going to make the team. In the three years Doug Pederson has been head coach, the Eagles have kept five or six receivers; they’ve kept six in the last two years.
We already know there are four locks: Jeffery, Jackson, Agholor and Arcega-Whiteside. Barring injuries, go ahead and write those names down in pen. That leaves one (or more likely) two spots for the remaining eight players. Maybe one or two more end up on the practice squad after final cuts. These two jobs will likely be won this summer, but it’s not exactly an even playing field. A couple of these guys were drafted by the Eagles and all of them are at varying stages of their careers. Let’s take a look at each:
Mack Hollins: After a mysterious groin injury robbed Hollins of his 2018 season, there’s some optimism he’ll be back for this training camp. If he is, he has the inside track to make the team. He’s a great special teamer, was a fourth-round pick a couple years ago and had a promising rookie season in 2017.
Shelton Gibson: A fifth-round pick a couple years ago, Gibson has struggled to get on the field offensively, even when the Eagles desperately needed speed. But he has turned into a nice role as a gunner on the punt team.
Greg Ward: He’s been around the Eagles for a while. The former University of Houston quarterback has been a project, but the team keeps bringing him back. After a nice spring, he has a chance to parlay that into a roster spot this summer.
Marken Michel: The former CFL star and brother to New England running back Sony Michel, Marken has a unique story and really started to stand out at the end of spring practices. His ability as a return man might make him stand out even more at training camp.
Charles Johnson: Johnson, 30, is the second-oldest receiver on the roster. He’s not some developmental player. He has significant NFL experience and was the best receiver in the short-lived AAF. If the Eagles are looking for one of these players to help them on offense immediately, he’s their guy.
Braxton Miller: The Eagles liked Miller enough last season to keep him around on the practice squad after he was cut free by Houston. He’s a great athlete, former top-notch QB-turned-WR from Ohio State and a former third-round pick. Intriguing player who has a long way to go.
DeAndre Thompkins: The rookie from Penn State went undrafted but his abilities as a returner offer his best chance to make the team.
Carlson Agudosi: He made a few plays at OTAs and is noticeable on the field: He’s 6-6, 220.
I think the Eagles are going to keep six wideouts. I think the only reason they kept five in 2016 was because they didn’t have six worthy of taking roster spots. Here are my six for now: Jeffery, Jackson, Agholor, Arcega-Whiteside, Hollins, Michel. I’m confident Hollins will make the team if he’s healthy, although that’s admittedly a big “if.” After that, I really think it’s an open competition. Based on what I saw from Michel at OTAs, I’d give him the nod right now, but this roster spot should come down to training camp practices and performance in the preseason games.
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