Marken Michel

A closer look at Eagles’ receiver options on the practice squad

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A closer look at Eagles’ receiver options on the practice squad

With a clear need at receiver and a short week to prepare to play in Washington, the Eagles will probably go shopping in their own pantry. 

Meaning they’re likely going to call up someone from the practice squad. 

Alshon Jeffery is reportedly done for the season and Nelson Agholor’s status is up in the air for Sunday, so the Eagles are down to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward, both of whom limped out of the locker room on Monday night. 

So there’s a chance the Eagles might actually need to call up two practice squad receivers, but almost certainly at least one. They have three on the practice squad. 

Let’s take a closer look at their options: 

Marken Michel (5-11, 190) 

Michel, 26, was just signed to the practice squad on Dec. 5 and it was a little surprising it took that long. The older brother of Patriots running back Sony Michel had a very promising spring and summer in Philadelphia, highlighted by this 75-yard touchdown catch from Nate Sudfeld in the preseason. 

Michel had four catches for 117 yards in the preseason. He has some speed, which would be a welcome addition for this Eagles offense. 

At 26 years old, it’s not like Michel is some young developmental player, so there’s more of a case for bringing him up now. 

And he has plenty of professional experience; it just didn’t come in the NFL. Michel went undrafted out of UMass in 2016 and spent just one summer with the Minnesota Vikings before heading north to the CFL, where he played for the Calgary Stampeders for two seasons. He was on the Grey Cup-winning team with linebacker Alex Singleton in 2018. In two seasons in the CFL, Michel had 72 catches for 1,215 yards and eight touchdowns in 24 games. He was the CFL West Division Rookie of the Year in 2017. 

Robert Davis (6-3, 210) 

Davis, 24, signed to the Eagles practice squad back on Oct. 7, not long after he was released by the Redskins. 

Washington drafted Davis in the sixth round out of Georgia State back in 2017. He split time in 2017 on the practice squad and active roster as a rookie but played in just one game. But Davis broke his leg in August 2018 and missed his entire second season. But he rehabbed and was back in 2019. He made the initial roster, was cut, added to the practice squad and then brought back to the active roster. He played in three games for Washington this season and had his first NFL catch; it went for 11 yards. But he was then released again and came to Philly. 

At 6-3, Davis is a big, catch-radius target. You could argue the Eagles don’t need that right now, even without Alshon, because they already have Arcega-Whiteside active on game days. But Davis is very athletic and ran a 4.44 at the combine a couple years ago. 

At Georgia State for four full seasons, Davis caught 222 passes for 3,391 yards and 17 touchdowns, while averaging 15.3 yards per catch. 

Marcus Green (5-8, 191) 

Green, 23, has been the Eagles’ practice squad all season. He signed just after final cuts and has been there ever since. The Falcons used a sixth-round pick on Green out of Louisiana-Monroe in the 2019 draft but waived him at final cuts. 

Obviously a smaller build, Green is also known for his abilities as a return man. He returned 70 kicks (25.2 average) and 28 punts (10.0 average) in college. The Eagles have had Boston Scott returning kicks and Greg Ward returning punts. They could bring up Green and let him do both as well as have a backup role as a receiver. 

In four years at Louisiana-Monroe, Green caught 202 passes for 2,698 yards (13.4) and 23 touchdowns. He also had 51 carries for 492 yards (9.6) and a touchdowns. 

Green is very speedy slot receiver with gadget flexibility and return possibility, but if Agholor and Ward are active, there might be less of a need for an inside receiver. 

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Eagles sign training camp standout receiver Marken Michel to practice squad

Eagles sign training camp standout receiver Marken Michel to practice squad

The Eagles on Thursday signed preseason and training camp standout Marken Michel to their practice squad.

Michel, 26, had an impressive summer in Philadelphia and was a strong contender to make the initial 53-man roster but was released at final cuts. The Eagles kept just five receivers out of training camp.

The Eagles reportedly had Michel in for a workout earlier this week.

During the preseason, Michel had four catches for 117 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown on a deep post against the Titans from Nate Sudfeld.

Michel is the older brother (by about a year and a half) of Patriots running back Sony Michel. While Sony has found a home in the NFL, Marken’s route has been more circuitous to this point.

Marken Michel went undrafted out of UMass in 2016. He spent one summer with the Vikings and then carved out a career in the Canadian Football League for two years. He was a teammate of Eagles linebacker Alex Singleton on the Calgary Stampeders when the Stampeders won the 2018 Grey Cup.

With this move to sign Michel (5-11, 190), the Eagles’ practice squad is now at capacity with 10 members and three of them are receivers. They have just four receivers on the 53-man roster.

The Eagles also have Robert Davis (6-3, 210) and Marcus Green (5-8, 191) on the practice squad.

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Marken Michel's TD in preseason was figuratively and literally a dream come true

Marken Michel's TD in preseason was figuratively and literally a dream come true

Eagles wide receiver Marken Michel had a date with destiny on Thursday, if you believe in that sort of thing. His 75-yard touchdown catch against the Titans happened just the way he imagined it would, and exactly how Eagles quarterback Nate Sudfeld said it would.

“I literally dreamed about this play,” Michel said following the Eagles’ preseason opener. “Literally. I dreamed about running a post, catching it and scoring just like that, and it happened. I can’t ask for anything better.

“[Sudfeld] told me if I see a Cover 4 [coverage], he’s coming to me, and that’s exactly what we got, so it was pretty much a perfect situation. Perfect situation, perfect ball.”

Michel was enjoying a strong offseason, one many observers felt put him very much in the mix for a spot on the Eagles’ 53-man roster. But when the CFL product hauled in Sudfeld’s bomb over the outstretched fingertips of Titans cornerback Adoree Jackson, a two-year starter and former first-round pick, he became one step closer to finally breaking into the NFL.

“It’s been a long road,” Michel said. “Only the people closest to me know the things that I’ve been through to get to this point and to get that touchdown.

“For me, that touchdown wasn’t six points. It was way bigger than that.”

The 26-year-old declined to elaborate on his road, though it’s simple enough to map his football journey to this point. Michel played his college ball at Division I-FCS UMass, then spent training camp with the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent.

When Michel failed to make the practice squad or get picked up by another NFL team, it was off to Canada the following year, where he recorded 72 receptions for 1,215 yards and eight touchdowns and won a Grey Cup Championship in two seasons with the Calgary Stampeders.

Even there, Michel was constantly fighting for respect.

“It was funny because a lot of people kind of deemed me a ‘gamer,’” Michel said. “In practice I wouldn’t make plays, but in the game, I would get it done, so I kind of take that mentality.

“Even though I go hard in practice, when the lights are on, it’s showtime.”

That hasn’t been the case since signing with the Eagles in January. Michel was one of the media darlings of spring OTAs, racking up impressive catches in the sessions that were open to reporters.

Michel hasn’t been targeted quite as frequently in training camp, but a 75-yard touchdown in an exhibition game figures to restore some of his momentum.

“I feel like I kind of started on a high note and then kind of slowed down a little bit,” said Michel, who entered camp with the unrealistic goal of making a big play in every practice. “But for me, I like to be my toughest critic, so I like to come to practice every day with the mindset of making a big play.

“When I don’t make a big play every day, it bothers me a little bit.”

While the Eagles have four receivers currently pegged as locks to make the team — Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor and JJ Arcega-Whiteside — a fifth spot is up for grabs. Mack Hollins is considered the front-runner, but he missed all last season with an injury and hasn’t been a picture of health this summer, either.

The Eagles could potentially carry Michel as a sixth receiver, too, provided he shows any semblance of value on special teams. Recently, he’s seen work as a punt returner.

Michel faces plenty of competition from other prospects such as Shelton Gibson, Charles Johnson, Greg Ward and Carlton Agudosi. However, he’s banking on his time in the CFL giving him a leg up in his battle.

“It wasn’t really that much different,” Michel said. “I was playing on a great team, great program, a lot of great coaches who helped me develop as a receiver and they prepared for what was to come today, so I’m forever grateful to them.”

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