Bailey Making Most Of Opportunity

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

I could play here. 

That thought ran through the mind of WR Rasheed Bailey last year when he attended his first Eagles game. The North Philadelphia native sat up and gazed out over the field, dreaming of one day being able to run routes for Chip Kelly’s squad. Now Bailey has less than three months to prove to Kelly and the rest of the Eagles coaching staff that he is deserving of a spot on the 53-man roster.

This time last year, Bailey was at Delaware Valley University, coming off a career high 977 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. But something clicked during his final season, and Bailey exploded for 1,707 yards and 19 touchdowns, leading all D-3 receivers in both categories. Del Val head coach Duke Greco tried to find an explanation for Bailey’s breakout year.

“Every mistake he made during his junior year, he didn’t make in his senior year,” Greco said. “All those normal little things that a lot of times guys learn as freshmen, and I think maybe it took him a little longer to make these mistakes. That’s the thing with him; he has been a hard worker. He doesn’t make mistakes twice, and if you tell him he needs something fixed, he’s got it, which is amazing. I mean I’m not like that, and I don’t think most people are.

“I think in his junior year he almost lost 1,000 yards, and so we go back after that year, we watched film. We were like, ‘Damn we could have 2,000 yards if you hadn’t messed up.’ But he gets it, and next year he almost [reached 2,000 yards].”

Mike Stanley, who coached Bailey at Roxborough High School, has fond memories of the wide receiver, but did not expect him to be challenging for an NFL roster spot.

“I remember on gameday he was special,” Stanley said. “If there was a play he needed to make, he made it. If there was a big catch that needed to be made, he made that catch.

“I thought he was [going to be a] college player, have a nice career, go get an education and do something better for himself.”

Since arriving at the NovaCare Complex, Bailey has made an impression on teammates. When Mark Sanchez was asked which young receiver stood out to him during practice, he named Bailey without hesitation. When Tim Tebow was scrambling on the last play of minicamp, he lofted a ball to the back corner of the end zone, and Bailey came down with it.

“In the beginning, it felt like a dream,” Bailey said. “It felt like this was all so unreal, and so every day I came in here, put my hard hat on, worked every day, and it was just like, ‘Wow, I’m doing it. I’m proving a lot of people wrong.’ And being an undrafted guy, being a D-3 guy, I’m going to hold my own here. And I’ve been doing that. It’s all about being consistent, and as Chip Kelly says, doing your job.”

Greco said he thinks the fans will learn to love Bailey because of his personality once they get to know him in the coming months.

“This kid is amazing, and he is a great person,” Greco said. “And I’m an Eagles fan; I always have been, I mean he is just a hard worker. He is the type of guy who could play for the ’93 Phillies or Allen Iverson’s Sixers, that’s just who he is. I’m just hoping he [makes the team] and I’m hoping  the whole city here will be proud of him. He is definitely not going to disappoint and he is going to be working for everything he gets.”

Bailey was part of the group of Eagles that spent a week in San Diego to live together and train together. His birthday is just two days before the start of training camp, and with a clear focus in mind, he has no plans to celebrate until he’s reached his goal of making the team.

“It’s going to be a dogfight,” he said.

One that Bailey has prepared to win.