Jordan Mailata

Eagles add wide receiver Greg Ward, place Jordan Mailata on IR

Eagles add wide receiver Greg Ward, place Jordan Mailata on IR

With DeSean Jackson out for Sunday and Alshon Jeffery questionable, the Eagles on Saturday signed wide receiver Greg Ward from the practice squad to the active roster.

To make room on the 53-man roster, they placed second-year offensive tackle Jordan Mailata on injured reserve for a second consecutive year with a back injury.

This is Ward’s first time on a 53-man roster, but he’s been in camp with the Eagles the last three summers and gotten better each year.

Ward is mainly a slot receiver, so if he does get on the field on offense Nelson Agholor would be outside. 

Earlier this week, Ward spoke about how he prepares, regardless of if he’s going to play or not.

“Honestly, I stay ready every week, because you never know,” he said. “Whenever my name is called, it’s called. If it’s not this week, if it’s not next week, I’m still going to prepare like I’m playing  every single week. It doesn’t really matter to me.”

Once the Eagles practiced Wednesday without adding an outside receiver it seemed like a lock that Ward would get the promotion, because he was able to practice all week and get the same reps whether he was on the 53 or the practice squad.

Without Ward, the Eagles had only three healthy receivers on the roster — Agholor, Mack Hollins and JJ Arcega-Whiteside.

Ward, a quarterback at Houston, first joined the Eagles in 2017 and spent the season on the practice squad. He was in camp again in 2018, then spent this past winter in the Alliance of American Football, catching 22 passes for 214 yards in eight games. When the AAF folded, he rejoined the Eagles.

Ward caught six passes for 87 yards and a 38-yard touchdown from Clayton Thorson in the preseason.

He was released with the final roster cutdown and signed to the practice squad as soon as he cleared waivers.

As for Mailata, it was really the smartest move for the Eagles, since the only alternative was releasing a player they didn’t want to release.

Depending on how he’s doing and depending also on other injuries, he would be a candidate to rejoin the 53-man roster after eight weeks on IR.

Mailata, like Ward, has never played in an NFL game.

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One talent Jordan Mailata doesn’t have that he wants

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One talent Jordan Mailata doesn’t have that he wants

I began doing this last season and folks seemed to like it, so it’s back! 

Each week, I’ll go through the Eagles’ media guide to find one interesting nugget about a player and then chat with them about it. 

This week’s is a fun one. Jordan Mailata’s desired talent: Swimming. 

DZ: It says your desired talent is swimming. Can you swim?

Mailata: I can stay afloat. You notice the wording. I can stay afloat. I wish I could swim like (Michael) Phelps. 

DZ: So you really want to learn how to swim? 

JM: I really want to learn how to swim like Phelps, that kind of swimming. Nate Herbig probably sinks like a rock. 

Herbig: Can you imagine him swimming? He can’t swim. 

JM: I’ve got webbed toes and everyone thinks that I swim faster. They always automatically assume that I must be a good swimmer. 

DZ: I’m gonna look now. 

(Note: Not all of his toes, but some of them are indeed webbed.) 

DZ: Oh, you do! 

JM: There’s only so many talents that I have and swimming is not one of them, unfortunately. 

DZ: I mean, you grew up on a big island (Australia). 

JM: I know, it’s crazy. We grew up an hour and a bit from the sea. Really, it’s no excuse. We went to the beach a lot when I was a kid. We never went to the pool that much. But every time we went to the beach, my fear of … so I have this fear of if I can’t see what’s in the water. I don’t know why. 

DZ: I think that’s a legitimate fear. 

JM: I’m telling you. They would make fun of me. But when you step on a stingray or you step on something you’re not supposed to, then bye-bye, you’re dead. If I can’t see the water I’m in, I’m not going to be in there. 

DZ: Now, you gotta get in the pool. 

JM: Did you have eight bucks as a kid growing up? I didn’t. 

DZ: Now you can get in the pool. 

JM: Now I can get in the pool, but I’m trying to learn how to play football. There again, I ran into another wall in learning how to swim. I want to swim like Phelps though. Maybe I should tweet at Phelps, though, like, ‘hey, you got any tips for a guy who has webbed feet?’ I need to live up to that expectation of being a good swimmer. 

DZ: Alright, man. Thank you. 

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Eagles training camp observations, Day 11: Rodney McLeod looks on track for Week 1, Carson Wentz plays it safe, more

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Eagles training camp observations, Day 11: Rodney McLeod looks on track for Week 1, Carson Wentz plays it safe, more

It was a hazy but warm day at the NovaCare Complex, where Eagles training camp continued on its 11th day — the team’s final practice before its preseason opener.

There was plenty to like on both sides of the ball as they head into Thursday night’s exhibition game against the Tennessee Titans.

1. It was only Rodney McLeod’s third full practice of 2019, but the veteran safety made his presence felt on Tuesday. Early on, McLeod met Darren Sproles in the backfield to force what would’ve been a big loss, then toward the end of practice, he pulled down an interception and tapped both feet in bounds on an apparent miscommunication between Carson Wentz and DeSean Jackson.

McLeod is still sporting a big, bulky brace on his right knee and was running sprints off to the side during special teams drills, but it appears he’s on track to contribute Week 1.

2. Speaking of Wentz and Jackson — another day, another deep ball. This time, Jackson got past Rasul Douglas on a 60-yard bomb thrown perfectly in stride. Not sure if there was a miscommunication in the secondary or not, but at this point, the Eagles' defense should be well aware of where the Pro Bowl wide receiver is at all times.

3. Just prior to the Jackson touchdown, Lane Johnson was replaced at right tackle by Jordan Mailata. The second-year player fended off defensive tackle Malik Jackson with little issue to help give Wentz time to push the ball downfield. Mailata stepped in for Johnson with the first-team offense on at least one other occasion in what was possibly a scripted change.

4. Wentz wasn’t the only quarterback throwing bombs out there. Rookie Clayton Thorson delivered what many are calling his best throw of training camp, hitting Greg Ward in stride over Deiondre’ Hall for a 50-yard score. It might have been busted coverage, but Thorson hasn’t had many big moments like this since he was selected in the fifth round, so credit where credit is due.

5. One last Wentz note: at one point during a 7-on-7 drill, the fourth-year signal caller found nobody open, so he threw the ball out of bounds. Why did this stand out? There was no pressure, not even the illusion of a pass rush, yet he made the decision to chuck it when time ran out on the play.

This is the type of maturity Wentz needs to show this season if he’s going to make it through 16-plus games. Too often, he’s held the ball too long or refused to give up on a play that wasn’t there and paid the price of an unnecessary hit as a result.

6. There was a Mack Hollins sighting in 7-on-7s, as well. The oft-injured wideout caught a lone pass for a short gain over the middle, though it’s more than we’ve seen him from since his latest malady. If Hollins can get healthy and stay that way, he’s still the frontrunner for the fifth receiver spot — but that remains a big if.

Interestingly, and potentially related, Charles Johnson is getting some first-team reps at receiver.

7. The Eagles like to deploy a dime package with three safeties, which we saw a little bit of today. Only with all the injuries and roster moves, it was kind of interesting to see who was actually in that package.

For now, Andrew Sendejo is in the role of the third safety along with McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins, with Nathan Gerry as the sole linebacker on the field. One would assume Nigel Bradham will take over for Gerry once he’s healthy. The real question will be whether newly signed Johnathan Cyprien can supplant Sendejo in the secondary before the calendar turns to September.

8. Josh Hawkins has had an up-and-down camp, but he was arguably the most impressive cornerback on the field on Tuesday. At one point, he came up with back-to-back pass breakups, knocking a pass away from towering rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside then dropping a potential interception intended for Carlton Aguodosi.

Hawkins is probably still a long shot to make this roster, but with Jalen Mills and Cre’Von LeBlanc still not practicing with injuries, efforts like this are increasing his odds.

9. From the opening install period at the beginning of practice to the very end, the Eagles' offense got a lot of work starting pinned at its own 1-yard line. Not much really stood out from this work, other than it was obviously a point of emphasis for Doug Pederson.

10. With Boston Scott currently out with an ankle injury, Donnel Pumphrey is getting much more of a look, particularly on special teams. Pumphrey was the second punt returner behind Darren Sproles on Tuesday. Then, interestingly enough, wide receiver Marken Michel got a look on returns — though he misjudged a punt that Cameron Johnston skied right over his head. Michel didn’t return much in the CFL or college, so it appears to be an attempt to increase a camp darling’s value.

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