FOXBORO, Mass. — Remember just a few weeks ago when everyone was wondering if Shelton Gibson was going to make the Eagles’ 53-man roster?
We don’t need to ask that question anymore.
He’s a lock. An absolute lock.
That’s right; after just two preseason games, Gibson has quickly become a no-doubt-about-it part of the Eagles’ 2018 roster. That shouldn’t even be a question anymore. Really, the new question is about how big Gibson’s role is going to be this season.
That’s how good he’s been.
After catching a 63-yard touchdown pass in the first preseason game, Gibson was even better at Gillette Stadium last night in the Eagles’ 37-20 loss to the Patriots.
Gibson led both teams in receiving. He had five catches for 90 yards, including a beautiful move on Jason McCourty to score a touchdown in the first half. The touchdown play is one the Eagles have been working on really hard in practice. Gibson ran it to perfection.
Just look at it!
“I always had this dream,” Gibson said. “Just playing at a high level on the highest stage. This is fun. Just going out there and having fun. It’s what I need to do every week.”
There’s just a zero percent chance Gibson makes that play a year ago. He doesn’t do it. Last preseason, Gibson was drowning as fifth-round pick from West Virginia who was clearly in over his head. He was overthinking, had no confidence and dropped just about every ball that came his way. It wasn’t pretty.
But the Eagles stuck with him. They showed patience. They kept him on the 53-man roster and eventually worked him into a special teams role. That patience is now paying off.
The Eagles are going to need to find a bigger role for Gibson this year if he keeps this up.
“Like coach said, it just comes with confidence,” Gibson said. “I had no confidence last year. I had a little bit but I wasn’t playing like I know I can.”
While Gibson has been outstanding in the first two preseason games, the Eagles’ consensus fourth receiver, Mack Hollins, has been a disappointment. After a very quiet training camp, Hollins didn’t have a catch in the first preseason game and missed last night’s game with an injury. It’s fair to wonder if Gibson is going to be able to start getting some real reps this season and perhaps even overtake Hollins on the depth chart.
But even if Gibson can’t get on the field as much as he’d like on offense, it appears he’ll have a role on special teams. And not just as a gunner like he was last year.
This preseason, the Eagles have been trying Gibson as a kick returner and the early returns (pardon the pun) look good. Against the Patriots, Gibson returned four kicks for 121 yards (30.3 per return) and had a long of 46. On that one, he nearly turned the corner and raced down the sideline.
Watching Gibson last night, it’s almost hard to believe he’s the same guy who probably didn’t deserve to make the roster last year. This time around, he’s already made the roster and is now pushing for much, much more.
The Eagles might really have something with him.
“You’ve just got to keep progressing every single day,” Gibson said. “I have a long way to go. I’m not nowhere near where I want to be. Even when I get to the point where I want to be, I’m still going to find a way to keep getting better.”