Mack Hollins Q&A: Chemistry with Wentz, Backpack Kid TD dance

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Mack Hollins Q&A: Chemistry with Wentz, Backpack Kid TD dance

Mack Hollins has sure made his 70 snaps count. 

The Eagles' rookie wide receiver from North Carolina is only averaging 10 snaps per game but has made quite an impact on the offense. 

He's been targetted six times and has six catches, five for 10 yards or more and all five of those for first downs.

His 64-yard touchdown against the Redskins tied the game at 10 late in the second quarter — one play after Carson Wentz had been leveled — and got the Eagles back into a game where nothing had gone right the first quarter and a half.

Hollins, a fourth-round pick, spoke Wednesday about his big touchdown Monday night, his quarterback, his rookie season and other topics.

Q: You looked real comfortable catching that deep ball from Carson Wentz Monday night.
No different from college to me. Different guys and different jerseys, but I’ve done that before. I know what it feels like to track a ball in lights and things like that, so I was comfortable. Carson’s a heck of a player and if that didn’t show you how confident he is and how great a player he is after getting hit the play before and go out there like nothing happened and throw a perfect ball? It’s amazing how he’s playing. I never question Carson’s arm. I never question that. If he were 30 yards backed up, he’d still be able to throw it that far.

Q: You beat a pretty good safety in D.J. Swearinger on that 64-yard touchdown.
 That’s an extremely difficult route to cover, especially in that coverage, where he has so much responsibility, where he can’t just sit back there, he has to really cover. So it’s an extremely difficult route to cover, which works in our favor. That’s the biggest thing, for a route like that, with how deep it is and also a double move, there’s a lot of time, and pure credit goes to the offensive line. He gets hit the play before and they don’t skip a beat.

Q: You only played eight snaps Monday night. How tough is it to go in cold and be ready?
 I’m lucky where I have the opportunity to play special teams, so I’m never really cold. My legs are always going. I know if I get one snap or 100, I have to be ready for that snap. There’s no, 'I’m cold,' or, 'I’m not ready to go in yet.' Coach says, 'Mack you’re in,' and I’m ready to go.

Q: Was that role difficult to get used to?
 Not really. My freshman and sophomore year at UNC was similar and I just take advantage of what I get.

Q: Why were you in for Torrey Smith on that play?
 He had happened to go on a deep ball and tap me. I was just the lucky one who got the deep ball the next play.

Q: What were you thinking while the ball was in the air?
I was thinking, 'If I drop it, I'm getting booed.'

Q: You have quite a streak going — six targets, six receptions. 
 I know my job is to catch the ball. If you all make it a streak, then I gotta keep it going, because if I don’t, then it becomes a thing. So I guess I gotta just keep catching the ball.

Q: That was an interesting end zone dance.
 That’s something that I do just randomly when we’re just messing around in here (locker room), and I’m getting better and better at it. A lot of guys can’t do it, they think it’s easy. It’s called The Backpack. There’s a kid who created it. He’s got some moves. I'll find you the video.

Q: You came in right from the start of OTAs with the attitude that you belonged here. Where did that come from?
I think it’s just a confidence thing. Really at the beginning, you have to trick yourself to being confident until you actually are. Tell yourself that it’s real until it becomes real. So that’s what I did from the beginning. Was just telling myself, 'I’m a starter in my mind. I’m the best player here in my mind.' Until I become able to make plays and do things on this team. Now I’m getting opportunities, which is great. So I just have to continue to grow and become a better player.

Q: Carson has really been hitting the deep ball — you, Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith all have touchdowns of 50 yards or longer. What's the key to those plays?
 It’s kind of like anything. The more experience you have with somebody and the more comfortable you get with them, the easier it is. The longer you play with Carson and see where he throws it and the longer he plays with us and knows my stride vs. Alshon (Jeffery)’s vs. Torrey’s vs. Marcus (Johnson)’s and just knowing where to put certain balls, the easier it gets for really all of us and the completion percentage will go up and everything will start going up.

Q: Do you really ride a bike to home games and to practice every day?
 I've rode the bike this entire year. I don’t have a car. I had a motorcycle in college. A (Honda) CBR 600, but they’re not too fond of it. So it’s at the house in Maryland.

Q: Why don't you have a car?
 I just don’t have a car (laughs).

Q: Backpack seems to be your nickname from college. Does that have something to do with the dance?
 No, I just aways have a backpack on. I guess that’s my thing. They call me Backpack Mack. It’s a useful tool to have. I always have one on. I’ve had it since high school. Then I have a briefcase. Always have a briefcase. For class in high school and for games. But it only comes out on certain days. It definitely has locks on it. But I find ways to carry it on the bike. I can carry a lot on the bike. I can carry boxes, briefcase, suits, all of it.

Eagles Mailbag: Lead back, Mack Hollins, the LB position

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Eagles Mailbag: Lead back, Mack Hollins, the LB position

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend. The Eagles are probably enjoying it too — because Tuesday, they’re back to work. 

That’s when the team’s second round of OTAs begin. The Eagles will have a few more weeks of the voluntary offseason program before the mandatory minicamp June 12-14. 

Let’s take a dip into the mailbag: 

Yeah, I’d consider Jay Ajayi the lead back for this coming season. I really think the Eagles are going to ride him a little more than they did last year now that he’s had plenty of time in the offense. But I still don’t see Doug Pederson or Duce Staley abandoning the running back-by-committee approach. So while I think Ajayi will get the bulk of the carries, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles will still play plenty. 

Ajayi will be the feature back, but Pederson will want to keep him fresh for the playoffs too. Sure, the Eagles want to use him up on the final year of his deal, but they shouldn’t do it before they really need him. 

The Eagles really like Mack Hollins and it’s not hard to figure out why. He’s a nice, humble kid who works extremely hard. As a rookie, Hollins played in all 16 games and had just 16 receptions for 226 yards and one touchdown. He was even less productive in the postseason, when he caught one pass for nine yards. 

To answer your question, yes, I think Hollins will be more involved. It also can’t hurt that the Eagles brought in his college position coach, Gunter Brewer. The problem is that as long as everyone’s healthy, he’s still behind Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace and Nelson Agholor. He’ll get snaps, but they’ll be limited. He’ll have to make the most of them. 

Quick Hollins story: Late in the season, I asked him about his lack of offensive production and he looked me dead in the eyes and said his job isn’t to catch passes. I probably looked confused. “My job is to help us win,” he said. “And I’ve been doing that.” 

Got a few questions about bringing in a linebacker and I understand why. On the first day of OTAs, the Eagles cut Mychal Kendricks and lost Paul Worrilow for the season. Earlier this week, I looked at the depth the Eagles have. I still wouldn’t worry about the position. 

I think it’s very possible the Eagles bring in another veteran linebacker, but I’m not sure there’s a huge rush. What might have been lost this week is that to cut Kendricks, the Eagles must feel really good about Jordan Hicks’ recovery. And remember, the Eagles are in two-linebacker sets most of the time. Corey Nelson will have a chance to be the weakside guy with Kendricks gone. And there's still decent depth. 

Maybe the Eagles add a player this summer, but it’s also possible they wait a bit to see what they have. For what it’s worth, I’d at least take a look at Bowman to see if there’s anything left.  

Corey Graham is still available and Pederson seemed more than open to bringing him back, so that’s very possible. Graham was a really important addition last offseason because, like you said, it allowed Jenkins to move closer to the line.

A lot of Jenkins playing that hybrid LB position was out of necessity with Hicks gone. According to ProFootballFocus, he played 42 percent of his snaps at LB, so it’s hard to imagine him doing it more in 2018. Still, Jenkins' versatility and his importance to the team can’t be overstated. 

Lane Johnson not pleased with ranking on NFL's top 100

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Lane Johnson not pleased with ranking on NFL's top 100

Lane Johnson had a breakout season in 2017, holding down the right tackle spot for the Eagles on his way to his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. 

And he even made the NFL Network’s Top 100 players list, which is voted on by players. 

All the way down at No. 95. 

“Obviously, I think it’s a joke to be honest with you,” Johnson said on the Mike Missanelli Show Friday afternoon. 

That’s when fill-in co-host Eytan Shander interjected: “Good it is a joke. You were robbed.”

Johnson, 28, is considered by most to be the best right tackle in the NFL and there will likely be plenty of the guys he shut down during last season on the list ahead of him. 

“Yeah, but that’s alright,” Johnson answered. “Better luck next year. That’s what they tell me. I think it’s just … there’s so many great players, it’s hard to put them in order. I guess just being on there is cool. Hoping next year, I’ll be a little bit lower on the list.”

Johnson isn’t the only Eagles player who might have a beef with where they’re slotted on the list. So far, the bottom 50 have been revealed and the Eagles have four players so far: 

68. Zach Ertz 
69. Fletcher Cox
95. Lane Johnson 
96. Malcolm Jenkins  

Johnson also talked about a few other topics on Friday shows, which was co-hosted by Shander and Geoff Mosher. He mentioned that he’s obviously hated in Boston and loved in Philly for his comments about the Patriots. 

He also talked about his relationship with Jason Peters, becoming a more vocal leader, and, of course, this …