Richard Rodgers tried to walk off the field on Monday, but he couldn’t. Instead, he sat down in pain after a practice rep and lowered his head into his hands. Shortly after a hug from Doug Pederson, the Eagles’ anguished third-string tight end was carted inside.
Just like that, Josh Perkins’ odds of making the Eagles’ roster skyrocketed. But he wasn’t in much of a celebratory mood after practice.
“It’s terrible,” Perkins said on Monday afternoon. “I’ve seen him working his butt off the last few weeks, trying to get back out here. … It just sucks for him. I feel real bad for the guy.”
Such is life in the NFL. One man’s injury is another man’s opportunity.
For the second year in a row, it appears that Perkins is going to get an opportunity, unfortunately, at the expense of Rodgers. It was a surprise Perkins made the roster out of camp last year, but it made more sense when Rodgers was placed on IR before the opener. Perkins spent the first nine weeks of 2018 as the Eagles’ third-string tight end before an injury of his own. It seems he’s destined for that role again this season.
I just try to stay locked in each day,” Perkins said. “You never know what’s going to happen. Coach always says, ‘Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready.’ So when you’re thrown into the fire, you already know what to do.
Even before this injury to Rodgers, Perkins was pushing for a roster spot. The 26-year-old Perkins had a “steady” training camp, according to offensive coordinator Mike Groh. Pederson said this will be another good opportunity for Perkins.
For his part, Perkins thinks he’s “light-years” ahead of where he was this time last year. Now, he knows the playbook and is able to fine-tune any mistakes.
With a receiver background, Perkins is just a different player than Rodgers, who is better as a blocker on the line of scrimmage. Without Rodgers, Perkins admitted the Eagles will probably need him to block more at the LOS and it’s a part of his game he’s worked hard to improve.
“I’m never scared to put my head down,” Perkins said. “We can bang all day.”
But as much as he works on his blocking, Perkins’ strength is what he can do in the passing game. Heck, the Eagles basically used him as a receiver early last season.
Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz noted if the Eagles want a blocking tight end, they can use an extra offensive tackle, which they’ve done plenty in the three years under Pederson.
Ertz also explained what the difference in third-string tight ends means for him and Dallas Goedert. Basically, in a three-TE package, the type of third tight end dictates where Ertz and Goedert line up in the formation: “Dallas and I are pretty much always going to be on the field when we go three tight ends, so it either shifts us one tight end down in the formation or one tight end up in the formation. We feel good about either one of them.”
“If they put a nickel in, we can run the ball,” Perkins said. "If they put a linebacker in, we can throw the ball. I feel like I’m a great matchup threat. I feel like I can be a versatile piece to the offense.”
In nine games last season, Perkins caught five passes for 67 yards. With Ertz and Goedert ahead of him, there will probably still be limited offensive opportunities for Perkins this year, but he’s learned to make the most of any opportunity whenever — or however — it comes.
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