Eagles WR Mack Hollins reflects on injury: 'Am I going to be the Mack I once was?'

Eagles WR Mack Hollins reflects on injury: 'Am I going to be the Mack I once was?'

To understand what Sunday was like for Mack Hollins, you have to understand where he’s been.

From Jan. 14, 2018, until Sept. 14, 2019, Hollins didn’t catch a pass.

That’s 610 days without helping his football team as he dealt with a seemingly endless injury ordeal.

When you're hurt you kind of go in that dark place,” he said. “You know, ‘Am I going to get back to that? Am I going to be the Mack that I once was? Am I going to be the guy that I was in North Carolina (and) my rookie year?' But the biggest thing is, you know, just pushing ahead and having teammates and trainers and family members that keep you going because you feel like you're alone a lot of times, but you got plenty of people to help you along.

Hollins spoke Thursday of the solitude he felt, the loneliness, during his endless rehab.

He was smiling when he said this:

I’m a loner anyway. I'm like the weird guy so not too many guys will hang with me, anyway. With the (pet) snakes and all that.

Hollins missed all of last year, missed a good chunk of training camp, and there was even some question whether he’d survive roster cuts.

Hollins only played 10 snaps on offense in the opener, but when Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson got hurt early in Atlanta, for the first time ever in a meaningful game, Hollins became a focal point of the offense.

Not including the 2017 season ender, Hollins had averaged 15 snaps per game in his career.

Against the Falcons he got 69.

You look to the sideline, there's nobody over there to come get me,” he said. “So … ‘If you're tired, there's not much we can tell you.’ They're going to look back at you and we're both gonna just be staring at each other. Look in the huddle and see I'm seeing JJ [Arcega-Whiteside] and [Nelson Agholor] and [Zach] Ertz and those are the only other receiving guys we have. It's like shared misery. Misery loves company and we're just all in there like, Hey, we're all hurting but we got to find a way.

Hollins caught a career-high five catches for 50 yards Sunday, all in the second half.

He had caught just 17 passes for 235 yards in 20 previous NFL games.

The Eagles lost. But Hollins looked like he belonged, and Sunday he'll likely make his first NFL start when the Eagles face the Lions at the Linc.

It was suggested that the performance might have helped his confidence.

No way.

My confidence is where it's always been,” he said. “No, we prepare for this. You come to this level to prepare to play. You don't prepare to be sitting on the bench. You prepare to be a starter, whether you're playing or not. And that's what coach (Mike) Groh and you know coach (Carson) Walch, coach Pederson have always told us and that's what we continue to do and that's why me and JJ were able to go in and make plays and have no errors on our routes, just because we we've been preparing (and) we've been being ready like we're starters.

In about a month, Hollins has gone from a guy who was in jeopardy of losing his roster spot to a critical piece of the Eagles’ offense going into a must-win Sunday.

With 21 career receptions, he’ll be the Eagles’ second-most experienced wide receiver in uniform.

Whatever coach needs me to do,” he said. “I played a lot a lot of different roles a lot of different positions on this team and I'll continue to do that or whatever helps us win. Whether that’s taking the top off or blocking or staying in and playing teams. I'll do it all. Whatever it takes.

These are challenging days for the Eagles’ offense and the Eagles’ receiving corps. If Hollins can keep doing what he did in the second half Sunday in Atlanta it would go a long way to making this stretch easier to take.

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Eagles release linebacker Zach Brown

Eagles release linebacker Zach Brown

Three days after linebacker Zach Brown called Kirk Cousins “the weakest part” of the Vikings’ offense and one day after Cousins threw four touchdowns against the Eagles, the Eagles parted ways with Brown.

The Eagles signed the one-time Pro Bowler this past offseason to a one-year, $1.4 million contract, but he played only six games and made virtually no impact. He was credited with 29 tackles and two pass breakups.

The move came after head coach Doug Pederson met with the media earlier in the day and without comment. Pederson is not scheduled to meet with the media again until Wednesday.

The Brown signing was a big deal when the Eagles signed him in May. He was expected to help offset the departure of Jordan Hicks, who signed with the Cards.

Brown’s $1 million base salary and $400,000 signing bonus were guaranteed.

The move doesn't affect the Eagles' salary cap since Brown was playing on a one-year deal and his base and signing bonus were both guaranteed.

How much of the move was related to Brown’s ridiculous trash-talking last week, which backfired in embarrassing fashion, and how much was related to his nondescript level of play isn’t clear.

But the timing of the move is very unusual for a starting player and indicates there were important factors in play that led to the move beyond his performance on the field.

It's reminiscent of the Eagles releasing Jason Babin 11 games into the nightmarish 2012 season one year after he had 18 sacks.

Whoever winds up signing Brown will be his fifth team in the last five years.

Brown played 271 snaps in the Eagles’ first six games, second most of any linebacker behind Bradham’s 352.

The Eagles, who released cornerback Ryan Lewis earlier in the day, do have two open roster spots. One is expected to go to Jalen Mills, and the other would likely be a linebacker.

Former CFL star Alex Singleton, who had such a strong training camp, is on the practice squad and would be an obvious choice to replace Brown on the active roster.

With Nigel Bradham dealing with an ankle injury he suffered Sunday in Minnesota, the only healthy linebackers currently on the roster are Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry, undrafted rookie T.J. Edwards and recent acquisition Duke Riley. Edwards has played only 12 defensive snaps this year — 10 of them in garbage time Sunday — and Riley hasn't played any.

Brown, who turns 30 next week, is in his eighth season. He was originally a second-round pick of the Titans in 2012 and spent four years with Tennessee, one Pro Bowl season with the Bills and two years with the Redskins before joining the Eagles.

The only news Brown made during his stay in Philadelphia was when he ripped Cousins, his former teammate with the Redskins.

After Cousins and the Vikings embarrassed the Eagles on Sunday, Brown declined to talk about it or apologize for his remarks.

The Vikings' Twitter account didn't hesitate to mock Brown after the game, although it did slightly misquote him.

Not the legacy anybody expected when the Eagles signed Brown.

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Eagles make move that seems to indicate a Jalen Mills return

Eagles make move that seems to indicate a Jalen Mills return

The Eagles on Monday afternoon made a move that seems to be a good sign Jalen Mills will return this week. 

A few hours after Doug Pederson said he expects Mills to practice this week, the Eagles waived cornerback Ryan Lewis, possibly to create a roster spot for Mills. 

Mills, 25, is still on the Physically Unable to Perform list with a foot injury that has kept him out nearly a year, but should practice this week and could be ready to assume a role on defense this Sunday night in Dallas. 

“We’re going to incorporate Jalen Mills a little bit this week in practice, we’ll see where he’s at at the end of the week and if he’s capable maybe there’s an opportunity there (for him to play),” Pederson said.

If Mills returns to practice this week, the Eagles will have three weeks to either add him to the active roster or place him on Injured Reserve. It looks like he’s clearly coming back to the Eagles’ roster and it seems like it will happen sooner rather than later. 

But even if Mills plays this Sunday, don’t expect him to have a huge role. He hasn’t played in a game since Oct. 28 last year in London. The Eagles will need to bring him back slowly. 

In addition to Mills, Ronald Darby (hamstring) is also expected to practice this week. While Mills and Darby aren’t saviors, they should at least help a secondary that was completely gashed by Kirk Cousins in Minnesota this past weekend. 

Lewis, 25, was signed to the Eagles’ practice squad on Oct. 1 and was called up on Oct. 4. He played 43 special teams snaps during his two weeks on the Eagles’ active roster. The Eagles’ practice squad is full at 10, but if Lewis clears waivers, he’s a candidate to return in that capacity.

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