It was a tough year for Shelton Gibson. After being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, the WVU product struggled to settle in at the NFL level. Training Camp inconsistencies and a poor preseason saw him tumble out of the picture and onto the sideline. But one season later, he looks poised to live up to the potential that was once associated with his name.
In last night’s preseason opener, Gibson teed off for a beautiful 63-yard touchdown, his first at the NFL level. You could see straight away just how much that meant to him, to finally get that weight off his back.
AND THERE IT IS.
Shelton Gibson's first touchdown as an Eagle was a home-run hit! pic.twitter.com/xDptUF2LIC
— Philly Sports Network (@PhiladelphiaSN) August 10, 2018
“It’s just confidence, man; it’s just confidence – going out there and playing and having fun instead of just going out there to impress the coaches.” Gibson told reporters after the game. “No, just go out there and have fun”
“The biggest thing is just confidence.” His Head Coach, Doug Pederson, agreed. ” He obviously had a chance to play in games last year, special teams. But I think that gives him a confident feel going into the season. He did some good things tonight. He’s one of the guys that’s competing and competing for a roster spot.”
Having fun did become key focus for the Eagles last season. It’s hard to forget the iconic celebrations after each and every score and the size of the smiles on every player’s face. That doesn’t mean hard work doesn’t take priority however and that’s area he was able to learn a lot about from the veterans.
“Just being on this team last year helped me out a lot, seeing how they work every single day – seeing how [WR] Nelly [Agholor] works, how [WR] Alshon [Jeffery] works, seeing how [WR] Torrey [Smith] was working.” The second-year receiver explained. “[It’s] having those vet guys talking to me every single day. It made me want to change in the off-season. I had to start at practice; I wasn’t having good practices. Everything will carry over to the game.”
Having spent a year on the sideline learning from the actions of one of the most dangerous wide receiving corps in the NFL, Gibson looked set to bounce back and make a real impact during the offseason. So far, so good. The 24-year old wideout had a small hiccup in the end zone during a return scenario, but as a receiver it became clear very early on that the strides he had taken between year one and two were huge.
For the Eagles, that is an overwhelming positive.
Pederson has spent two full seasons now trying to find a long-term solution at the second wide receiver spot and more importantly, a deep-threat. That’s exactly what Gibson was drafted to become and that wasn’t without good reason. In 32 games for West Virginia, he received for 1,898 yards, averaging 22.6 yards per catch. The 5’11. 191 lbs, wideout was targeted on deep looks 29 times during his final season. Of the 17 that were labelled “Catchable”, he hauled in each and every one for 726 yards and a score.
Mike Wallace won’t be around forever and there aren’t really any other players that carry Gibson’s youth, upside and contractual tie to the team. As of right now, Gibson sits on the edge of a very intriguing roster bubble. But a few more performances like that and we may just see him filter into the offense as the unaccounted for weapon from time-to-time. A hidden ace in a hand of cards that is already nearly unbeatable.
Your move, NFL defenses.
Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports