robert davis

‘Don’t nobody believe in us’ — Eagles’ young WRs feeling free

‘Don’t nobody believe in us’ — Eagles’ young WRs feeling free

These guys aren’t going to the Pro Bowl … but they might be going to the playoffs.

The Eagles are one win away from clinching the NFC East and if they get into the playoffs, their top three receivers in the wild card round will be Greg Ward Jr., J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Robert Davis.

That might sound like a ton of pressure on the young trio.

But it’s the exact opposite.

“You’re playing with house money,” Arcega-Whiteside said. “That’s how we’re approaching it.

“S—, don’t nobody believe in us. We believe in each other. We ain’t got no other choice. Whatever we do out there, they’re either going to not believe in us or they start to believe in us and we can build off of that.”

It’s not like this trio is setting the world on fire, but the Eagles are winning. While Ward has been stacking some productive games, the production hasn’t really been there as much for Arcega-Whiteside and Davis. But all three contributed in the win over the Cowboys.

• Ward had four catches for 71 yards, including a huge 38-yarder down the sideline on the third quarter touchdown.

• Arcega-Whiteside had just two catches for 39 yards but both came on the tone-setting field goal drive to start the game. One was a 27-yarder on the first play from scrimmage and the other was a 12-yarder on 3rd-and-10.

• And Davis had just one catch but it was a six-yarder to move the sticks on the touchdown drive in the first quarter.

These guys aren’t the trio of Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor that we all thought would be destroying defenses while catching passes from Carson Wentz. But they’re what’s left. And they’ve been a part of a youth movement with the Eagles this season.

The Eagles’ offense has completely changed from earlier in the season based on personnel. And with the younger players in there, the Eagles have benefitted from simplifying things from an offensive perspective, head coach Doug Pederson said.

“These guys, they are busting their tail for Carson,” Pederson said. “And Carson is trusting them and giving them every opportunity to make plays.”

Despite injuries, the older trio is still around. That’s something the younger guys stressed. Alshon and DeSean and Nelly are still in the meeting room, they’re still there to answer questions and to help their teammates prepare during the week.

They’re just not there on Sundays to get in the way of them playing.

“I would say we all learned from them,” Ward said. “Now, we’re just putting it to work right now. I’d say we’re all very mature, we’re all ballplayers, we’re all very professional. We’re just taking what we learned in the film room and learn from those guys and put it out on the field.”

There’s a glimmer of hope that if the Eagles are able to make it to the divisional round of the playoffs, Jackson might be able to join them. But the Eagles have two more games to try to win before they get to that point.

One of them will come on Sunday in North Jersey when they face the Giants. The Eagles are going into a game to decide the division with three pretty inexperienced receivers.

No big deal.

“We played tonight with just us three,” Arcega-Whiteside said after Sunday’s in over the Cowboys. “We played last week with just us three.”

These three have been gaining confidence and have been feeling more comfortable every week they’ve played. If you don’t think they can get it done, that’s actually a good thing. That’s what has them playing free right now.

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Here comes wide receiver Robert Davis … to save the day?

Here comes wide receiver Robert Davis … to save the day?

He’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong. 

Can he play? Who knows? I guess we’ll find out on Sunday. 

Meet Robert Davis. He’s the 6-foot-3, 210-pound receiver who once ran a 4.44 at the combine and tested through the roof. He’s also the receiver whom the Eagles called up from their practice squad earlier this week after even more injuries at the position. 

It’s probably unfair to expect a 24-year-old receiver with four career games and one career catch under his belt to suddenly cure all the Eagles’ ails at wide receiver. But here we are.  

I tweeted that video on Thursday and most of the responses were hilarious. Some were tongue-in-cheek, like suggesting that since he caught a ball the Eagles should sign him a long-term deal. But some were genuine — in that, hey, here’s a guy with an impressive frame and possibly some untapped potential. Heck, it’s gotten so bad at receiver, he’ll surely help, right? 

Last week’s 23-17 win over the Giants should be remembered as the practice squad game because three guys — Boston Scott, Josh Perkins and Greg Ward Jr. — all played a big part of the victory and all three were on the practice squad less than two months earlier. 

So … on one hand, Davis uses that as encouragement. Hey, if they can do it, so can I. 

On the other hand, maybe there are now some unfair and unrealistic expectations on just how big of an impact Davis will be able to have in his first game with the Eagles. 

“We’re all competitors,” Davis said. “That’s why we’re in the NFL. Seeing [Ward] go out there and have success, I want to go out there and have success, too.”

The Redskins saw that potential in Davis when they drafted him in the sixth round out of Georgia State back in 2017. It’s pretty easy to see why they used a pick on him. 

Despite his athleticism, Davis split time between the 53-man roster and the practice squad as a rookie and then broke his leg in 2018. Davis came back in 2019 but didn’t play much and eventually got cut. He’s been with the Eagles since he signed to the practice squad on Oct. 7. 

This weekend, Davis will play his first game as an Eagle and it’ll come against his former team in Washington. He’s as excited about that as Eagles fans are about seeing him play. 

And if you want to get even more over-hyped about Davis, here’s what his former Redskins and current Eagles teammate Nate Sudfeld said about him last month: 

He’s a freak of nature. He’s got muscles on top of muscles. Definitely looks the part of a big, freak wide receiver, and he plays big. He’s got speed, really good at running routes, he’s smart. He’s got a bright future, definitely.

Maybe Davis will just have a short stay on the Eagles’ active roster. Maybe he won’t even be able to make an impact. But, for now, it’s fun for fans to dream about finding another diamond in in the practice squad. 

After his call-up, Davis took over a real locker stall at the NovaCare Complex, moving up from the pop-up variety. While he’s listed as Robert on the roster, his nameplate said Rob. 

What does he prefer? 

“My mom named me Robert,” he said. “I go by Rob for my homeboys.”

You can decide what to call him after watching Sunday’s game.  

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Why this Eagles youth movement just might work

Why this Eagles youth movement just might work

When the season began, the Eagles had one of the oldest groups of skill players in the league. The nine backs, receivers and tight ends on the field for the opener against the Redskins averaged 27.6 years old.
 
When the Eagles face the Redskins again on Sunday, that number will be down to 23.3.
 
DeSean Jackson and Darren Sproles are long gone. Alshon Jeffery’s season is over. 
 
The new guard is in place, and if the Eagles are going to win the NFC East it’s going to be with a bunch of kids with lots of energy and talent but very little experience.
 
But one thing stands out about all the young guys. They don’t act like young guys.

This is a youth movement by age but not by attitude.
 
“It comes from being around all these the vets and seeing how they go about their business,” rookie running back Miles Sanders said. “You don’t see a lot of playing around and joking around here. They go about their business and get their work done, and we kind of take after them. You don’t want to be the guy out there messing up or they’re not going to trust you to be out there. So it’s just that type of mindset that we have. We’ve got to be on our (stuff) and be accountable.”
 
When the season began, the Eagles had the 3rd-oldest roster in the NFL.
 
They’re now 17th-oldest.
 
It’s too early to determine how many of these young guys are here for the long haul. But one thing that ties them all together is a serious-minded approach to football. 

And that’s not always the case with young guys.
 
“It just shows how serious they are about it,” said Zach Ertz, at 29 an elder statesman. “As a veteran player, you want to see the young guys come in and take this extremely seriously because we put a lot of stock in this thing and we’ve been through it for so long and so it’s extremely important to us. So as a veteran player, you want to see that, and that’s a very easy way to gain trust from the older guys — seeing them approach it a certain way. Not just when they’re starting or playing a lot but how they’ve been approaching it the whole offseason.”
 
The Eagles go into Washington for a crucial game Sunday, and five running backs and receivers likely to be in the rotation — Sanders and Boston Scott at running back, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and Robert Davis at receiver — have played 44 career games.
 
Combined.
 
The Eagles are putting a tremendous amount of responsibility on these kids at a key moment in the season.
 
“Some guys have the work ethic, some guys just don’t have it,” Ertz said. “Some guys think they’re still in college, and it’s not a job, where other guys kind of embrace it and say, ‘This is my profession, this is what I’m going to do, this is what I’m passionate about and hopefully I want to play for a long time, so I’ve got to take this thing seriously and invest in it so it pays off in the long run.’”
 
Sanders, the rookie second-round pick, has had a significant role all year, but Scott, Ward, Robert Davis and Josh Perkins all came from the practice squad and Arcega-Whiteside didn't play for much of the season.
 
Now they’re all in key roles for a team that’s struggled but is somehow in the playoff hunt.
 
“These guys take it very seriously,” Nate Sudfeld said. “I’ve got a unique perspective on it because I’ve been around these guys for a long time, so I see the work they put in behind the scenes, and it’s not easy to keep putting in the work when you don’t feel like it’s showing out on game days because you’re not playing. But to see those guys putting in this work behind the scenes, doing things the right way, and taking advantage of opportunities, that’s why everyone respects them.”
 
We’ve all seen young guys who have plenty of talent but for whatever reason never pan out.
 
Maybe they liked to party too much. Maybe they didn't spend enough time studying. Maybe they thought talent along was enough to get by.
 
We haven’t seen any of that this year.
 
Where is this coming from?

A lot of it starts with Sanders, who is kind of the unofficial leader of the youth movement. At 22, he’s such a serious, driven kid, and his attitude clearly rubs off on everybody else.
 
But it goes deeper than that. A big part of player evaluation is trying to determine what kind of people you’re adding to your team. 
 
One clown, one key guy who isn’t putting in the work, can destroy a locker room. Because others invariably follow him and wind up off track themselves.
 
“These guys, they could very easily be just excited for the opportunity to get on the field, and it is a big moment for them, they’ve worked really, really hard and now have the opportunity to contribute as a starter in the NFL,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “But I think they’re all locked and loaded on what the team needs to do to win, and that’s a testament to them, it’s a testament to the leadership on the team, as well as the coaches. While they’re happy and excited to be here, it’s all business.”
 
Sanders certainly looks like a stud, but it’s way too early to predict what kind of careers most of these kids will have or what next year’s roster will look like.
 
But for a team that really hasn’t had many exciting young offensive contributors in recent years, at least there’s hope.

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