Eagles Training Camp Preview: Wide Receivers

Leading up to the first full-squad practice, our position-by-position preview continues with a look at the Eagles’ wide receivers.

Save ‘em a spot: DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Riley Cooper

The Eagles had quality receivers in name only last season. Jackson wasn’t himself because of the contract situation and Jeremy Maclin didn’t hit his stride until the last handful of games following his health scare.

Consider: Maclin’s touchdowns were cut in half, scoring five in 2011 after finding the end zone 10 times the year prior. Jackson gained almost 100 yards less than the season before despite catching 11 more balls, and his four receiving TDs were the lowest for him since his rookie season.

As I noted earlier, wide receivers coach David Culley believes Cooper also would have flourished a good deal more if not for the lockout, and says he has benefitted significantly from this offseason.

In a season full of expectations dashed, the wideouts took a back seat to no one. The group should return to its non-distracted form.

Fighting for a job: Marvin McNutt, Damaris Johnson, Chad Hall, Tiger Jones, McKay Jacobson, Mardy Gilyard, Ron Johnson, Jamel Hamler, Elvis Akpla

If you agree that Cooper will make this team, then there are one or two spots remaining for the rest of the wide receiver hopefuls to fight over.

The Eagles used a sixth-round pick on the 6-2 McNutt, and you have to believe that he’ll get every opportunity to make the team.

From there, it could be a battle of the waterbugs. Hall has certainly maximized his potential and somehow managed to work his way into an offensive system that boasts some of the great playmakers in the game. He’ll be challenged by Johnson, a slippery speedster out of Tulsa who opened some eyes during minicamps. Johnson is a top candidate for fans’ camp crush.

They’ll also surely be rooting for Jones, the former Philadelphia Soul player.

“He’s athletic,” said Culley of the 5-11 Louisville product. “He understands what it’s all about and it will be interesting to see how he does. He deserves to be here.”

You can follow Tim McManus on Twitter and email him at tmcmanus@phillymag.com.

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  • PaoliBulldog

    I expected a lot more from Riley Cooper by this stage of his career. He hasn’t been particularly bad; he just hasn’t ever shown that he is capable of playing on every down.

  • knighn

    Am I the only one who thinks “Akpla” sounds like something a Klingon would say? Should be a good competition. I hope that we simply get more consistent production out of the WR Corps this year. If that means improved play by the top 4, then that’s all good. If it instead means that Avant or Cooper lose some snaps to the newbies, I’d be fine with that too. By the way, can the Eagles please find someone who can be more productive than DeSean Jackson in the Red Zone?! DeSean’s strength is in “stretching the field”. When the team is already in the Red Zone, there is just not that much field left to stretch!

  • Wilbert M.

    Is Damaris Johnson really a speedster? I’ve watched his college highlights and saw him get caught from behind quite a few times. I think because he’s small and quick we’re assuming he’s fast. I don’t think he is.

  • Tim

    I know you guys said you wanted comments on the new blog’s layout and design, so here goes. I think you need to come up a stronger font. Whichever one you have selected right now is really tough to read against the pure white background. Some letters just disaapear into the white because they are so white. You can see the difference by looking at the comments against the background and then looking at the blog post itself. Just my two cents. Love the work.

    • Sheil

      Tim, thanks so much for the feedback. We are still tweaking things and will absolutely keep that suggestion on the font in mind.

      • dave heiserman

        i will read your posts & updates all day long at work – as a result i have to squeeze down to a very small box and keep it discreetly in the corner of my pc screen.

        as of now its very frustrating to see that your ads take such a big priority over your article – that was one of the MOST ANNOYING things about philly dot com was that they shoved so many pop ups & ads in our face!

        im dying to get away from that. ill gladly see what companies support you and will try to supoprt them as a result (im in NYC so dont rule out your national audience) but i think you jeopardize your hard work and loyal readership by bullying us with ads

        otherwise GOOD LUCK!

  • I’m iffy on Cooper. I thought he looked good with Young behind center, which makes sense – they probably built a rapport while on the second team. It’ll be interesting to see his production during camp this year. I’d love to see Gilyard and Akpla make the team – great stories behind both of them. Gilyard looked dynamite while in college, and Akpla seems like he’d always have his head in the game.

  • Keith Petres

    Would have thought that Cooper was fighting for a job, but to look at the players fighting for a spot, I guess it makes sense that Cooper has a spot pretty much locked up.

    Or not. Just checked and Riley Cooper has 23 catches in 29 games in 2 seasons. For comparison, Freddie Mitchell had 33 catches in 31 games in his first 2 seasons.

  • Al

    Sheil/Tim: If Cooper has a good camp and makes the leap the Eagles are expecting, do you think the chances are good Avant goes on the trade block? How do you think Riley would work out in the slot?

  • At this point, lockout or not, we know what we know with Riley. I’m interested to see if McNutt can push him out of the fourth receiver slot. As for Chad Hall, I simply don’t want to ever see a Wildcat or draw with him involved.

  • mj

    some suggestions for sheil and tim:

    1.) make the middle column of the page (your article/blog post) wider. the recent comments section and advertisements are too large.

    2.) please include pictures!

    3.) something is up with the font or background/color scheme. philly.com is a lot easier to read for some reason.

    • mj

      4.) i dont know if ya guys are concerned with spam or what, but captchas are a big turnoff too