If Jason Huntley can keep making the plays he’s been making? He’s going to make it very difficult for the Eagles to cut him.
It’s that simple.
Huntley, like Travis Fulgham and Kerryon Johnson a former Detroit Lions draft pick, has been one of the biggest surprises of training camp so far.
Every day, there’s at least one rep where he blasts around the corner with that 4.34 speed and runs away from the defense for an explosive play.
Now, history is filled with stories of hotshot running backs who light it up early in camp, only to fizzle out and disappear as the weather gets hotter, the practices get tougher and the stakes get higher.
And that could certainly happen here.
But so far?
Huntley looks really good.
“I just go out there and every time I touch the ball try to make a play, whether it’s a catch or a run,” Huntley said. “If you can house it, house it. That’s how I think about it.
“I feel like that’s my mindset: Every time I touch the ball, score. So me being able to do it [in practice], that shows it’s translating.”
Huntley was a pretty accomplished college player, so this hasn’t come out of nowhere.
He ran for over 2,000 yards and caught 134 passes for over 1,000 more yards in three years at New Mexico State.
As a senior in 2019, he averaged 7.1 yards per carry, third highest in the BCS behind Lynn Bowden Jr. of Kentucky, drafted in the third round last year by the Dolphins, and Travis Etienne of Clemson, drafted in the first round this year by the Jaguars. He also had three kickoff return TDs in one season.
He became only the third BCS player in the last 20 years to rush for 1,000 yards, average 7.0 yards per carry and catch 40 passes, following Penn State’s Larry Johnson in 2002 and Louisiana’s Elijah McGuire in 2014.
The Lions drafted him in the fifth round last year, then released him on final cut-down day. The Eagles claimed him and he spent all last year on the roster, although he barely played.
The sum total of his 2020 season was five games played, five carries for 19 yards and a catch for no yards.
“I had to just take it and look at it as a positive, take that time and make sure whenever I did get in the game — if I did get in the game — I knew exactly what to do and therefore I could just play rather than thinking,” he said. “Because that’s when mistakes come, when you’re thinking, so that’s what I tried to do.”
We know Nick Sirianni and his staff value receiving ability in their backs, and from 2017 through 2019 his 126 catches were third most among all BCS running backs, behind James Williams and Max Borghi, who were both playing for Mike Leach at Washington State.
The next step for Huntley is producing in the preseason games. If he can do that, he’ll have a chance.
“I’m excited, honestly, to show people what I’m here for,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know about me.”
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