Eagles Wake-Up Call: Reich Sees ‘Flashes’ From Agholor
Nelson Agholor was considered one of the more dynamic and polished wide receivers coming out of last year’s draft. The USC product caught 104 passes for 1,313 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior, and also brought two punt returns back for scores. Many viewed him as an instant threat that would help fill the void left by Jeremy Maclin, but that proved not to be the case due in part to a high ankle sprain that hampered him for much of the season.
Frank Reich has seen enough glimpses on that rookie tape and in practice this offseason, though, to be encouraged about Agholor entering Year Two.
“He’s got a quickness coming off the line of scrimmage,” Reich said. “He has some vertical speed to challenge you deep, and he just has very good footwork. And in this league, you have to be able to beat press coverage. You have to beat press coverage. And he has a natural ability to get off the line versus press, and he’s got to be able to use that to his advantage to help our team.
“The film that I saw last year, I saw flashes of it. We come in and I said ‘Oh this guy can beat press coverage, he can get off the line of scrimmage versus press coverage.’ So I didn’t really get into evaluating their scheme and what they were trying to do a whole lot. But you could see flashes of it, and a lot of times when you’re in that tempo offense that they were in, you don’t get quite as much press coverage. They play a little soft and just try to get lined up because they were going so fast. I would anticipate he’ll have more opportunities to do that this year.”
In his rookie season, Agholor had 23 catches for 283 yards and only one touchdown. He failed to post more than 64 yards in a game throughout 2015. Receivers often take a significant step forward in their second year, and Reich believes that could very well be the case here.
“I think there is something to that,” Reich said. “You see that in receivers, and I think a lot of that is just the confidence and the game slows down. And those two go hand in hand. So, we’ve said it all offseason, that’s our expectation of Nelson.”
Quarterback Sam Bradford commended Agholor’s physical abilities, but said that with time and experience on the field, he’ll think less and react more to what’s going on during play.
“Anytime you’re a young player, it doesn’t matter what position you’re playing, I think there’s still part of that process where you’re thinking a lot,” Bradford said. “And I think as he gets older, as he gets more experience, as he sees more looks from defenses, I think a lot of that will probably be cut out, and he’ll got out there and he’ll just naturally react to things. And I think hopefully he can start doing that, but I think he’s shown some flashes and he’s made some plays where he could really help us this year.”
Fellow receiver Jordan Matthews wants his teammate to just be himself when he’s out on the field.
“Be Nelson,” Matthews said. “Nelson’s best asset is being a technician. It’s got to be perfect. And I think sometimes when guys maybe have to press to make a play, that’s when they get out of themselves. And I’m not saying he does that all the time, I’m just saying that’s always something you got to watch out for in young guys.
“And Nelson, when he’s doing his technician thing, he’s crafting, he’s cutting that tree, I think he’s the best at what he does. And sometimes that’s hard, because you have to maintain a lot of focus to be a technician. You might not get a ball all day at practice, and then you’ve got to get back and be that same person the next day. People don’t see the mental aspect of doing this, but you’ve got to be like that every single day.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles returned to NovaCare on Monday. Tim has the practice observations.
“He’s the fourth receiver at best here, and he may not make the 53-man roster.” What They’re Saying.
Our Jeff Fusco took some great pictures at Sunday’s open practice.
“I’m not focused on ‘breaking out,’ I’m focused on being the best I can for my teammates.” Zach Ertz on getting asked about when he’ll ‘break out.’
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Eagles center Jason Kelce seemed to take a little shot at former Eagle DeMarco Murray on 94.1 WIP. Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice has more.
Speaking about the declining production in the Eagles’ run game last season, Kelce put blame on himself, the scheme, the offensive line as a whole, and finally, Murray.
“I don’t think necessarily we had the best back that we had a few years ago either,” said Kelce.
It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that Kelce was criticizing Murray and perhaps giving former teammate LeSean McCoy a compliment.
Murray was of course signed by the Eagles last offseason after he compiled 1845 yards for the Dallas Cowboys in 2014. However, with the Eagles in 2015, Murray was far from the same player, when he often looked slow and disinterested. On the season, Murray had 702 yards on 193 carries (3.6 YPC) and 6 TDs.
Wide receiver Josh Huff is working on his inconsistencies during training camp with new wide receivers coach and former Eagle Greg Lewis, writes Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com.
He knows it’s not good enough. He knows unless he catches the ball consistently he won’t be here.
“Definitely have to be consistent,” he said. “I know I can be great, I just have to bring it all in. Not to make an excuse or anything, but I haven’t been playing receiver that long. I just moved to receiver permanently sophomore year of college, so I’m still learning the ins and outs of playing receiver.
“I have a great coach in Greg Lewis teaching me that. I’m not going to make every play, but I know that my coaches and my quarterbacks have the trust to me to come back to me if I don’t make a play so I can try to make that play the next time.”
Huff’s 410 receiving yards are the third-fewest after two years since 1960 by a wide receiver the Eagles have drafted in the first three rounds.
Only 2004 third-round pick Billy McMullen (26 yards), 2001 first-round pick Freddie Mitchell (388 yards) and 1990 second-round pick Mike Bellamy (0 yards) had fewer after two NFL seasons.
That’s not the company any wide receiver wants to be in.
A day off for the Eagles but not for us. We’ll get you your fix.