I remember my first thought as I walked out to the NovaCare Complex fields on Sept. 23 to see Eagles rookie Jalen Reagor not practicing: “You gotta be kidding me.”
Eventually, we found out the most exciting young player on the Eagles roster was going to need surgery to repair the UCL in his thumb and that he was heading to IR. That was over a month ago.
Since then, the Eagles have gone 2-2-1, Travis Fulgham has emerged and DeSean Jackson got hurt, returned and got hurt again. It’s been a long month.
But this week, for the first time since his injury, Reagor will be practicing after the Eagles opened up his 21-day window on Monday. Reagor is still on IR but there’s a chance he might be able to return for Sunday Night Football and his first career game against the Dallas Cowboys.
It’s not much of a surprise that Reagor is ahead of schedule. Before the season, Reagor suffered a small tear in his shoulder, an injury that was expected to keep him out for the first couple weeks of his rookie season. But Reagor was on the field in Week 1 and has traditionally been a quick healer.
Now, the Eagles obviously shouldn’t rush him back onto the field. But if he’s ready? It would be a big boost to get him back.
By all accounts, Reagor has been working really hard to return.
“Jalen is the same guy,” Greg Ward Jr. said. “He loves to have fun, always asking questions, a student of the game. It’ll definitely be big if we can get him back. We’re just going to keep praying for him.”
And even though Reagor played just two games before getting injured, he showed some really good signs. He made some plays and showed off his toughness. In those two games, he had five catches for 96 yards.
Through two games, Reagor had more receiving yards than Justin Jefferson, Laviska Shenault and Tee Higgins, who are all now ranked in the top five in receiving yards among rookies:
Justin Jefferson: 28 catches, 537 yards, 3 TDs
CeeDee Lamb: 36 catches, 497 yards, 2 TDs
Tee Higgins: 27 catches, 410 yards, 3 TDs
Chase Claypool: 18 catches, 333 yards, 4 TDs
Laviska Shenault: 29 catches, 324 yards, 1 TD
The Eagles took Reagor with the 21st pick and Jefferson went 22nd, so these two are naturally going to be compared. And while Jefferson has been having huge games, Reagor has been relegated to spectator, which certainly isn’t his fault.
Earlier this month, it certainly seemed like Reagor was annoyed by the comparisons to Jefferson and I liked to see that from him too. He’s obviously hungry to prove himself.
Even though the Eagles have been burned by taking the wrong receiver in the past, there’s no reason to think Reagor won’t be a good player. In fact, if Reagor hadn’t gotten hurt and stayed on his pace, he would be right there with those other receivers listed above.
And once he comes back, the Eagles are going to play him a ton. Even if Reagor doesn’t return until after the bye week, we’ll still get to see him play the second half of the season. That’s pretty exciting.
“Just like I said, he’s a student of the game, constantly asking questions, constantly working on his craft and trying to get back out there,” Ward said. “And that’s all we can ask for.”