Jalen Reagor is 22 years old, has 39 career receptions and it’s fair to say that in public he doesn’t have the most outgoing personality.
So it was curious to hear veteran safety Anthony Harris identify him as one of the Eagles’ natural leaders.
The topic came up with the loss of Brandon Graham, who is as vocal and inspirational a leader as this franchise has seen since Dawk.
Here’s Harris, a defensive player in his first year with the Eagles, asked what players have stood out to him as guys who can help pick up the slack with Graham out for the season. And it definitely makes you take notice when he mentions a young, generally quiet offensive player.
“I’ve seen a number of guys pop out really just in spurts, not so much in big breakdown moments before pre-games but in the flow of practice, in the flow of the game, it’s just something that comes natural,” he said.
“So you’ll be seeing guys like Eric Wilson, Alex (Singleton), (Darius) Slay, Steve (Nelson) from a defensive standpoint, as well as someone like Jalen Reagor. It’s really just about being in the moment, being present, doing your individual job and if you feel like saying something to get guys going, you do that.”
Reagor is an interesting name. He’s a guy who’s shown flashes but is still trying to find his way in the NFL. But he’s impressed Harris with his work ethic, his desire to get better and the way he’s vocal when he needs to be.
“From my time and my experience, it’s really just coming out and working every day trying to get better, trying to go out and do positive things and be a large playmaker,” Harris said. “So whether it was joint practices when he’s making plays, he’s feeling fired up, his confidence is continuing to grow, and I think that’s something he’s just been trying to show.”
Harris spoke of leaders who “may not be publicly seen” and “might be a little more behind closed doors,” and that’s a perfect description for Reagor.
From the outside, he just doesn’t come across that way.
“I don’t force it,” Reagor said. “I don’t try to force my leadership on anybody or anything like that. Whenever the time comes, that’s what I do. … With Jalen (Hurts), he’s our quarterback, he’s the captain of the ship, I feel like it’s natural for him. He just has that trait. That’s what he does. I don’t have to be the guy that’s loud and be vocal and stuff like that. I just lead by example and if I have to say something I do. It’s not a thing that I’m this big leader. I just play my part.”
Leadership is a hazy concept, and Reagor is correct that it’s not something you can force. You can’t try to be a leader. You either are one or you aren’t. If it’s not natural, it doesn’t work.
The main thing is always going to be performing on the field, and that remains an unknown with Reagor. He caught six passes and a touchdown in the opener, then was just 2-for-5 against the 49ers, losing a 36-yard touchdown when he stepped out of bounds racing down the sideline before he caught the ball.
Reagor has spoken this summer about how he’s a different guy than last year, and if he’s coming out of his shell to the point where a veteran safety regards him as a natural leader, that’s a good sign.
Reagor will ultimately be judged on his production. But it's a positive sign that he's growing as a person and regarded so highly in the locker room.
“It's just part of just that leadership that we need on this team besides the leaders we have, the captains,” Reagor said. “It’s just having another voice, and I feel like it’s never enough, so we can always have others. I don’t say too much but I feel like when the time is right I do say certain things.”
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