I’ve talked about the WRs a bit over the past couple of months. The Eagles have a veteran group, but with the new staff and new offense, there is more uncertainty than you might think. I wrote about that for PE.com. Here’s a snippet:
“The Eagles will only keep five or six receivers and you have 10 guys really pushing for those spots. This should make for some interesting camp battles. Jackson and Maclin are still the most talented receivers on the roster, but for the first time since they were rookies, they can’t just relax and know the starting jobs are theirs for the keeping. New coach. New system. New emphasis on size and blocking. The jobs are wide open. It is up to the players to earn them.”
Think about Howie Roseman’s comments about players falling by the wayside. That feels like a LB/DE comment, but could apply to WR. If Jeremy Maclin doesn’t start blocking and stop going down when DBs simply approach him, Mac is going to lose playing time. If the DeSean Jackson of 2012 shows up, he’ll be fine. If the timid player from 2010-11 shows up, he’ll lose playing time.
I’ve talked about Jason Avant quite a bit. Some people think I’m being dismissive of him. You have to understand the question isn’t about talent, but rather fit. Coaches need players who fit their schemes. If a player is talented enough, the coach adjusts for him. Avant is good at what he does (getting open, catching the ball), but he’s very limited after that. I tend to think Chip Kelly will want players that can turn short passes into big gains. That just isn’t something Avant does. His big plays seem to come when he gets lost by the defense. Those are nice, but you can’t count on them. Kelly is more likely to prefer players with serious RAC ability. Avant is still here so maybe I’m wrong, but I think he’s got a tough road ahead of him.
The WR I’m most excited about is Damaris Johnson. He could steal the primary slot role from Avant. Check out this Yards after catch stat, per ESPN:
Jason Avant – 53 catches – 167 yards after catch – 8 receptions of 20 or more yards
Damaris Johnson – 19 catches – 104 yards after catch – 4 receptions of 20 or more yards
Avant is averaging 3.15 YAC per reception. Johnson is at 5.47. Which guy do you want with the ball in his hands?
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Both Dave and Jeff made mention of Johnson looking good in practice. He should, since quick, elusive players thrive in non-contact practices. Remember the legend of Lorenzo Booker?
The other note of interest is that Johnson is getting work at both PR and KOR. He was a dynamic KOR in college.
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“I’m ready to erupt, man,” he said. “I’m ready to erupt. Start strong and finish strong, and let’s go try to do something this year. Because the last couple seasons haven’t been good for us. Neither of us. The organization or myself.
“All I know is you’re going to get 100 percent from me, like I say every year, and it’s going to show out there this year.”
Love the mindset. I really want Graham to pan out, both for us and for him.
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