Eagles

Eagles rookie receivers offer options for dynamic return men

Eagles rookie receivers offer options for dynamic return men

As the 2020 NFL Draft unfolded the only person in the organization who might have been happier than Carson Wentz that the Eagles drafted three speedy wideouts is Dave Fipp. 

Because the Eagles didn’t just get three weapons for Wentz. 

They also got their special teams coordinator three players with the ability to be huge contributors in the return game. 

“Oh gosh, man,” Fipp said with a smile on a Zoom call Friday morning. “We’ve got all kinds of options there right now. I would just say Howie (Roseman) and those guys, they’ve always done a great job. But this year, they’ve given us a lot of options back there. I mean, everyone wants to be a returner. We’re meeting with those rookies right now and they’ve all done it and they’ve all been really good at it.”

Last season, the Eagles used five different punt returners and five different kick returners. 

Their leading punt returner from the 2019 season was Darren Sproles, who is now part of the front office. And their leading kick returner was Miles Sanders, who will have a huge role on offense this season. 

So the Eagles are going to need to figure out new guys to take over. Maybe the answer could be with returning players like Boston Scott, Corey Clement or even DeSean Jackson, at least at crucial moments. 

But maybe it’s one of these new draft picks:  

Jalen Reagor (Round 1-21) 

Without knowing how big of a role Reagor will have on offense, we do know he’d be a great candidate to be a return man in the NFL. While he returned some kickoffs in college, he returned more punts and had a tremendous season as a punt returner in 2019. 

His numbers went down as a receiver as a junior in 2019 but he had a punt return average of 20.8 yards per return and took two to the house, including this one that was awfully reminiscent of that famous DeSean return against the Giants. 

“Jalen’s obviously a really explosive player,” Fipp said. “When the ball’s in his hands, he’s electric. He made a lot happen. Obviously had a huge average in college. We’re really excited about him, definitely excited about him for us here.” 

Here are his return stats at TCU: 

Punt returns: 23 returns, 312 yards (17.8), 2 touchdowns 

Kick returns: 13 returns, 315 yards (24.2)

The problem with using Reagor as a returner is the possibility of overloading him, especially if he has a big role on offense. And given the fact that he’s learning both outside receiver positions, it seems pretty likely he’ll be playing a lot on offense as a rookie. 

John Hightower (Round 5-168)

Unlike Reagor, Hightower was definitely more of a kick returner than a punt returner during his college career. 

He had an average of 24.6 yards per return as a senior at Boise State and returned this one the length of the field against Portland State. 

Maybe Hightower isn’t the best option as a punt returner given his limited experience doing it at Boise but he could be a viable option as a kick returner. He has 4.43 speed and seems to understand how to set up his blockers. 

Here are his return stats at Boise State: 

Punt returns: 1 return for 2 yards 

Kick returns: 36 return for 840 yards (23.3), 1 touchdown

Thanks to rule changes, kickoff returns aren’t as big a part of today’s NFL as they used to be, but knowing one return could change a game is reason enough to find a good one.  

Quez Watkins (Round 6-200)

The Eagles’ sixth-round pick ran a 4.35 at the combine, so you’d understand why the Eagles might like to try him out as a return man in the NFL. He can fly. 

Here are his return stats at Southern Mississippi: 

Punt returns: 19 returns for 178 yards (9.4), 1 touchdown 

Kick returns: 18 returns for 365 yards (20.3)

While Fipp has been having conversations with these rookies about the possibility of being used as returners in 2020, he hasn’t yet been able to see them work at those positions in person. That will come during training camp, when they’ll rotate in and out. 

“But we definitely have a lot to work with,” Fipp said, “so we’re definitely excited about that.”

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NFL players can be fined for high-risk COVID-19 conduct in 2020

NFL players can be fined for high-risk COVID-19 conduct in 2020

NFL players can be fined for high risk COVID-19 behavior during the 2020 season, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. 

The discipline schedule comes from the agreement between the NFL and NFLPA. 

According to the document, obtained by NFL Network, NFL teams may fine a player one week’s salary and/or suspend that player for up to four weeks for conduct detrimental to the team for engaging in what is considered high-risk COVID-19 behavior. 

There are no written warnings necessary before fines begin. 

According to the document, here are all the details about what constitutes as high-risk behavior: 

1. Attending an indoor night club unless player is wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) and there are no more than 10 people in the club. 

2. Attending an indoor bar (other than to pick up food) unless player is wearing PPE and there are no more than 10 people in the bar. 

a. For clarity, a “bar” does not include an establishment that offers food service and which a player attends primarily for food service even if the establishment also includes a full-service bar. 

3. House gatherings of more than 15 people without the player and all guests wearing masks or PPE or where social distancing for more than 10 people is impossible. 

4. Attending an indoor music concert/entertainment event. 

5. Attending a professional sporting event (other than applicable NFL games or events) unless the player is seated in a separate seating section, such as a suite or owner’s box, is wearing PPE, and there are no more than 10 people in that separate seating section. 

6. Attending an event that is prohibited by state and/or local regulation, executive order or law implemented due to COVID-19. 

It’s important to note that the report from NFL Network says that all Tier 1 and Tier 2 employees of teams are subject to comparable discipline if they violate those rules too. 

Furthermore, the report says Commissioner Goodell may discipline individual teams if they fail to discipline their players for these infractions. 

Without being in a bubble, the NFL is counting on its players acting responsibly to limit the spread of the coronavirus. While all of these things might seem obvious, the added incentive to not get fined might prevent some stupid behavior. 

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Eagles players finally learn NFL's opt-out deadline

Eagles players finally learn NFL's opt-out deadline

If any more Eagles are going to opt out of the 2020 season, they only have until Thursday afternoon to do it.

The NFL and NFLPA have finally settled on 4 p.m. Thursday as the deadline for players to opt out because of health concerns related to COVID-19, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday evening.

Later Monday evening, Schefter reported that the NFL and NFLPA finally jointly approved the CBA provision governing training camp protocols, which formally locks in that 4 p.m. Thursday deadline.

So far, only one Eagle has opted out. 

Wide receiver Marquis Goodwin, acquired in a draft-day trade with the 49ers, announced last Tuesday he was opting out.

League-wide, 48 players had opted out as of Monday evening, including former Eagles Patrick Chung, Chance Warmack and D.J. Killings.

NFL players who opt out who are considered at-risk because of a medical condition will receive a $350,000 stipend in place of their 2020 salary and will earn a year of pension credit toward free agency and benefits.

Players who are considered not at-risk receive a $150,000 advance and do not earn a year of pension credit. If players in this category are not on a roster next year, they will have to  pay back the $150,000. 

All players taking the opt out have their contracts frozen, picking up in 2021 if they remain on the roster.

Originally, the opt-out deadline was going to be seven days after the NFL and NFLPA officially agreed to CBA provisions governing training camp protocols. 

As that date continued to move forward, NFL officials moved to set a concrete date, which did not go over well with at least one prominent NFL player. Patriots safety Devin McCourty said, “It’s an absolute joke the NFL is changing the opt-out period, mainly because they don’t want to continue to see guys opt out,” McCourty told Patriots writers on a Zoom call. “I’m sure they’re shocked how many guys have opted out. I think it’s terrible. It’s BS that the league has changed that date.”

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