Eagles

Why this year's Eagles longshots actually have a chance

Eagles

Conventional wisdom says you don’t want to be a late-round rookie this summer. Or worse, an undrafted rookie.

How are you supposed to impress the coaches without preseason games? How are you supposed to learn the offense or defense without spring practice? How are you supposed to prove you belong in what amounts to a few weeks of stripped-down training camp?

For the higher draft picks, the team is committed to you because of your signing bonus. 

The late-round picks and undrafted players have a tough enough time during a normal summer making the team. This year? You would think it’s going to be virtually impossible. 

Not necessarily, Doug Pederson said.

On the contrary.

“When you have an opportunity like this … of coaching everybody up, it’s not just about the starters and getting them prepared, which we do every year, but now more importantly it's about getting these young guys [prepared],” Pederson said Monday. “Because we truly feel these young guys are going to be the ones who are going to have to help us throughout the entire season.”

Pederson seemed to be saying that because the team anticipates temporarily losing players to the COVID list — which is both for players who’ve tested positive and those who've had close contact with them — they’ll need a deeper bench.

Which means they’ll be relying on some of these camp long shots.

Maybe several of them.

Because of the risk to players, practice squads were increased for 2020 from 10 to 16, and six of those spots are available for players with any level of experience. So you could conceivably see someone like Jordan Matthews — a six-year veteran with close to 300 career catches — on the practice squad. 

 

Last year, the Eagles’ injuries were so extreme they wound with four practice squad wide receivers on their roster by the end of the season, and some 73 players got on the field at some point during the season.

Now add the COVID risk, which could strike any position group at any time, and you see why the Eagles want to get as many people as possible ready to play.

“We're going to get some really good opportunities here in these next coming weeks,” Pederson said. “They are going to learn a lot from the veterans. The way I have the schedule set up is for them to learn and to be successful. Then once we get into the padded portion of training camp is where we really get to see where these guys are. 

“I think that this is actually a good time to be a late-round pick and possibly a free agent.”

If the roster is at 80 and the regular-season roster is 53 plus 16 on the practice squad, you see why it’s important for the coaches to get everybody ready.

Because just about everybody is going to have a chance to be a part of the 2020 Eagles. 

If there is a 2020 Eagles.

For guys like undrafted running backs Michael Warren and Adrian Killins, 6th-round receiver Quez Watkins, undrafted defensive tackle Raequan Williams and undrafted safety Grayland Arnold, this is very good news.

They don’t have a lot of time. But they have a chance.

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