Third time lucky, right? It’s a saying I find my self saying that phrase quite a lot in everyday life, but there’s one Eagles wideout who will be crossing his fingers that the old adage rings true. That man is Greg Ward Jr, who is now preparing for his third preseason with the Philadelphia Eagles
The former Houston quarterback transitioned to wide receiver and spent the next two years on the edge of making the Eagles 53-man roster. Over two preseasons with the Eagles, Ward caught 13 passes for 92 yards, proving himself at 5’11, 190 lbs, to play physically, snatching balls out of the air with an impressive catch radius and developing as a route runner.
But it wasn’t to be. The Eagles like what they’ve seen in Ward, otherwise he wouldn’t be back for his third offseason with the team. The problem was that on both previous occasions, the Eagles were tied to guys lower on the depth chart, players like Shelton Gibson and Mack Hollins, who were in their second year and would, of course, take priority over an unproven undrafted free agent.
However, Hollins is still battling durability, with a new ‘lower body’ injury holding him back in camp this week, while Shelton Gibson has been unable to make a regular-season impact despite coming off of a stellar 2018 preseason. The Eagles may have drafted JJ Arcega-Whiteside, but the WR5/6 spots that could potentially be available are there for the snatching, and Ward is staking his claim early.
The development in Ward’s game is impressive, but shouldn’t come as a surprise. After some strong strides working with the Eagles, Ward Jr. took his talents to the Alliance of American Football.
He didn’t necessarily blow the league up during his time with the San Antonio Commanders, but he recorded 22 receptions for 214 yards and more importantly, showcased an ability as a returner, bringing back nine punts for 135 yards, leading the league with an average of 15 yards per return.
At 23-years old, Ward is still extremely young and could be a viable option to compete for a spot lower down the roster. In fact, his recent experience in the AAF may only propel his chances and he’s already in Pederson’s book of praise.
“We know [WR] Greg [Ward]. He’s been with us in the past, and he has some experience this spring in the AAF league and did some nice things there.” The Eagles Head Coach explained on Monday. “So he’s matured. He’s gotten stronger, and I really like where Greg is at right now, and he’s continuing to learn.”
The battle at wide receiver could be more open than it has been in each of the last three years Ward Jr. has been on the roster, and that can only mean good things for a player who has been so close, yet so far from making the roster. Ward Jr. defines a player ‘on the bubble’, but this could well be the offseason he bursts out of it with another strong preseason, and straight onto the final 53-man roster.
Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum