The first couple years, Jalen Reagor could get away with being out of shape. With lacking focus. With not producing.
As a first-round pick, he had that luxury. He wasn't getting cut.
Now, Reagor is scrambling. In Year 3, he’s fighting for playing time, fighting for reps, fighting for his job.
And he knows it.
“Me personally, I love a good challenge,” Reagor said. “It‘s a humbling experience because you go from being a first-rounder to you’re battling. I like challenges, though.”
Reagor spoke to the Philadelphia media after practice Wednesday for the first time since last Oct. 29, nearly 10 months.
Since then, his second season ended dismally, he lost his grandmother in January, and then he lost his best friend, former TCU teammate Jeff Gladney of the Arizona Cards, who was killed in a car crash in Dallas in May.
And he watched as the Eagles signed A.J. Brown and Zach Pascal, two high-profile additions that put his roster spot in even deeper jeopardy.
If Reagor wants a challenge, he’s got one because at this point in his career, nothing is guaranteed.
“I want to be here for the rest of my career,” Reagor said. “But it’s a business. It’s a business of production. So I’m going to handle my end and I’m going to let them handle theirs.”
Reagor dropped from a disappointing 396 yards as a rookie to a moribund 299 yards last year.
He’s one of only four wide receivers in NFL history drafted in the first round to start at least 24 games in his first two seasons and have less than 700 yards.
A career on the brink.
But by all accounts, Reagor reported in great shape, and working mainly with the second team, he’s enjoyed a good training camp so far.
“The big thing with Jalen is from two years ago to last year to now, mentally he’s in such a better space,” receivers coach Aaron Moorehead said Wednesday. “Every guy in this room has a responsibility to be a pro and being a pro is knowing your role and understanding that that role changes.
“At any given time that role can change and Jalen’s come in and had a nice camp so far, he’s made plays, he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do and he’s got to continue to challenge himself on the field, off the field.
“We’ve had no issues this year like stuff that happened last year, (when he) kind of came in out of shape. He came in in as good a shape as anybody in the whole camp this year and it shows.”
Reagor said he was more motivated this offseason to get into shape, and being at a career crossroads will do that.
“Probably the best shape I’ve been in since I left school,” he said. “I feel good. … Just putting my head down and going to work, not really worrying about anything else, just focusing on myself.
“Last year, I was dealing with a lot, and I wasn’t really focused on my training, but this year even dealing with a lot it just motivated me more.”
And as far as he’s come physically, he says he’s come farther mentally.
“I’m here mentally now,” he said. “It’s easy to be out here, but physically that’s a little part of the game. Being here mentally (is most important).”
Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Pascal have roster spots locked up, undrafted rookie Britain Covey has looked very good and has big-time return skills, and Greg Ward has been around since 2017 and caught 50 passes a couple years ago.
Reagor, still only 23, may be in a competition with Covey for a fifth spot. If the Eagles keep six receivers, his odds improve.
But the Eagles could also try to trade him and recoup something in exchange for a guy who probably won't have a significant role, even if he makes the team. And releasing him, clearing a roster spot and giving him a chance to start over somewhere else is also a possibility.
“We’ve got a hell of a room,” Reagor said. “There’s competition in there. Obviously, some people have their jobs, some people don’t, some people fighting.
"So you’ve just got to come in and when people go down you step up, when people up, you just make sure you’re ready when it’s your turn. … I just don’t worry about anything.”
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