Against all odds, in a sports-cynical town, Jalen Reagor made the Eagles’ 53-man roster.
Reagor was one of five wide receivers the Eagles kept on the roster after Tuesday’s cutdown day trimmed the roster from 80 players.
Reagor’s re-emergence is an unlikely, remarkable story. He went from a first-round draft pick in 2020 (20th overall), to the almost insurmountable perception of being a wasted first-rounder, to now being considered a breakout, reliable player in this summer’s training camp.
Throughout camp, Reagor reports were positive from his teammates and coaches. In preseason games, Reagor got open and caught passes. He was a kick returner. He looked the part of a high draft pick.
“I felt like he made plays this summer and it started right from the beginning, from Day One of training camp and it continued on throughout the practices that we had,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said.
“You could definitely could see the explosion — he’s never lost that, right? He’s had this explosion in his body and he uses it to separate from the defense. I just thought he had a good camp, he made plays and he was more consistent this year throughout training camp.”
UNDERACHIEVING TWO YEARS
Reagor rarely has been so complimented in his NFL career. He has been inconsistent — unable to get open enough, and he had too many dropped passes, especially the two drops against the Giants that could have been game-winners against a bitter rival last November.
In two seasons, Reagor had an underachieving 64 receptions for 695 yards and three touchdowns.
Heading into training camp, the odds of Reagor making the roster were long, if not impossible. He had fallen that low.
“It’s a humbling experience,” Reagor said earlier in August. “You go from a first-round pick to you’re battling.
“I like challenges, though. I want to be here for the rest of my career. But it’s a business. It’s a business of production. So I’m going to handle my end and I’m going to let them handle theirs.”
REAGOR TURNED IT AROUND
Reagor handled his end. What did he do? He tightened up his chin strap and went to work.
- “When you look at Jalen, one of the things that one of our scouts said to me today was he was one of the only guys to practice every day,” general manager Howie Roseman said.
- “The guy brought it every day. He worked on his craft. He had a great attitude, great energy.
- “Obviously, he’s a talented guy, he’s 23 years old. We’re going to do whatever we think is in the best interest of the team and we felt there’s no doubt in our mind that he deserved a role on this team.”
Reagor joins accomplished wide receiver A.J. Brown, talented second-year player DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal at a suddenly proficient position on the 2022 Eagles depth chart.
The Eagles cut several quality wideouts Tuesday — Deon Cain, Britain Covey, Devon Allen and John Hightower — such is the depth and merit at the position. Greg Ward was placed on injured reserve.
In the 2017 Super Bowl year, the Eagles’ wide receivers were nowhere near as talented — Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, Marcus Johnson, Shelton Gibson and Mack Hollins. Solid, but not spectacular.
Sirianni talked earlier in the summer about Reagor not getting as many opportunities — as he did as a star at TCU — so he had to make the most of his targets. Translation: Catch the ball when it’s thrown to you.
Roseman has given emerging quarterback Jalen Hurts a strong receiving corps, as Hurts continues his growth at the game’s most important position.
“Obviously, a lot of resources used at that position,” Roseman said. “I feel like it was necessary to make sure that we gave Jalen an opportunity to play with the guys around him. Felt really good about where our offensive line has been, really, over my whole tenure here except for injuries in some years.
“As the opportunities arose it just made sense to add those guys, whether we’re talking about DeVonta or Quez and how he stepped up, and obviously A.J., and then here Zach in the offseason.
- “We’re just looking for opportunities to improve the team. That’s all we’re trying to do.
- “It just so happened to work out that the best guys and the opportunities that we had happened to be at that position.
- “Feel good about the character of those guys. Feel good about the level of play that those guys can bring to our team.
- “And they complement each other really well, which I think is important. We talk about it all the time.
- “They’re different shapes and sizes and they do different things really well. We gotta go out and play. Obviously, we haven’t won a game.”
The countdown to the season opener is on — Sept. 11 in Detroit. That’s when we’ll start to see if these offseason moves will pay off and by how much.
Check the 2022 Eagles schedule for more details.