While the Eagles were busy trying to cobble together a wide receiver corps with Mack Hollins and Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Jenkins was campaigning for somebody else to get a shot.
“I’ve been calling for him to get called up to the active roster since training camp,” Jenkins said Thursday.
Instead, Ward spent nine of the first 10 weeks of the season on the practice squad. The one week he was on the active roster, against the Lions, he only got two snaps on offense.
Then it was back to the practice squad.
Once Ward finally landed on the 53-man roster for good and actually got a chance to play and the Eagles saw what he could do, the Eagles released both Hollins and Matthews in the span of nine days.
Hollins played 473 snaps and had 10 catches in 11 games. That's a catch every 47.3 snaps.
Matthews played 137 snaps and had four catches in two games. That's a catch every 34.3 snaps.
Ward has played 145 snaps in three games and already has 11 receptions. That's a catch every 13.2 snaps.
Ward's eight-yard catch in overtime Monday night got the Eagles down to the two-yard-line, setting up Carson Wentz's game-winning TD pass to Zach Ertz.
How did the Eagles not realize for 2 1/2 months that Ward was a better option than Hollins or Matthews?
It’s not like he’s new here. Ward was on the practice squad all year in 2017 and in training camp in 2018 as well before leading the ill-fated AAF in receiving.
Boston Scott, Josh Perkins and Ward, who were all on the practice squad for a good chunk of this season, had 15 catches for 140 yards (and 59 rushing yards and a TD) in the Eagles’ win over the Giants.
Hollins? Hasn't caught a pass since September.
Matthews? He's back with the 49ers, who've already cut him twice this year (without a catch).
Scott, like Ward, was buried on the depth chart while the Eagles went out and got Jay Ajayi, who is averaging 3.0 yards on 10 carries. Not until Miles Sanders had to leave the game briefly Monday night did the Eagles finally let Scott play. And that was the last we saw of Ajayi.
On the one hand, it’s good that these practice squad guys are contributing because it shows that the Eagles at least liked them enough to sign them and keep them around.
But why they stuck with guys like Ajayi, Hollins and Matthews for so long before finally letting Scott, Perkins and Ward play remains a mystery.
How could they not tell they could play?
“Not necessarily surprised because we see it every day,” Jenkins said. “These are guys who make us better and challenge us. I’m just excited to see them, No. 1, have the opportunity but to take full advantage of it and really help us get a win. I don’t think we get the win without them. To see them get the opportunity, I’m definitely proud.
“It does create some energy when you see them make plays. When guys you expect to make plays make plays, it’s one thing. But all of a sudden you have Perkins and Boston and G. Ward making plays, it adds a little juice to the team.”
You just have to wonder why it took so long for them to even get the opportunity to add a little juice to the team.
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