The Eagles are in a very sticky situation when it comes to their outlook at WR this weekend. After yesterday’s injury report listed 26% of the players from the 53-man roster, things have taken an even bigger turn for the worse.
Greg Ward Jr is the only receiver from the team’s active roster practicing today. No DeSean Jackson, no JJ Arcega-Whiteside, no Jalen Reagor, no Alshon Jeffery, no John Hightower. While we could still see Hightower and JJAW suit up this Sunday, who else will join them?
Every year the Eagles seem to be leaning on their practice squad to bail them out of trouble. It’s time to get familiar with this year’s heroes.
The name that will be the most familiar, Burnett first made his mark at the end of last season with a huge 41-yard catch against the Giants. The burner was unable to make the 53-man roster this season, but it didn’t take long for him to be called up from the practice squad. Amassing 19-yards against the Bengals on 3 receptions, he actually gave the Eagles more life than JJ Arcega-Whiteside, a former second-round pick.
The third-year player caught on with the Jets two years ago as a UDFA and caught 10 passes, averaging 14.3 per reception. At 6’0, 186 lbs, it’s likely that Burnett would fill the ‘Z’ spot if Hightower is unable to go.
A second-year player out of Louisiana Monroe, Green was drafted by the Falcons in the sixth round but waived during roster cuts. The Eagles quickly took a flyer on the man who tied for the all-time school lead in receiving touchdowns (23), amassing 2,698 collegiate receiving yards in the process. He’s bounced on and off the roster ever since.
At 5’8 190 lbs, Green would probably be limited to a slot role, backing up Greg Ward Jr. who could well be pushed outside in a pinch.
Travis Fulgham was originally a sixth-round pick of the Lions back in 2019 after amassing a 1,083 yard season at Old Dominion. At 6’2, 215 lbs, Fulgham is nearly 25-years-old and had a brief stint with the Packers after being waived by Detroit, but the Eagles were quick to pluck him when Green Bay moved on.
In preseason last year, he amassed 7 receptions and 147 yards, leading the team. However, he only played in 3 games as a rookie before Detroit moved on.
Built in a similar vein to JJAW and Alshon, Fulgham would give the Eagles an ‘X’ mold. If they want 2-deep at each spot, Alshon being sidelined makes that tricky, so taking a flyer here does make sense.
*WILDCARD* Quez Watkins
He’s not *technically* a practice squad player, but Watkins started the season on IR and had a 21-day practice window recently activated. He could well be ready for Sunday, but how much can we realistically expect from a late-round draft pick who has had next to no time to adjust to the NFL, is yet to play a competitive snap, and missed a massive chunk of the offseason?
There is reason for optimism, though. Watkins is a speedster, running a blazing 4.35 40-yard-dash time and tearing his way through college. The Southern Miss product led the conference in yards per game (107) last year, ending 2019 with 1,178 receiving yards. In doing so, he became the eighth receiver in program history to hit the 1k mark in a single season. Only six wide receivers in college football in 2019 averaged more yards per game than Watkins’ 104.1.
Time will tell how much of an impact he’ll have, but right now any lifeline is worth holding onto.
*WILDCARD 2.0* Hakeem Butler
The Eagles signed Hakeem Butler from the Panthers’ practice squad earlier this week with the vision of converting him to tight end. They may not have that luxury in the short-term. If it absolutely came to it, there is a chance that Butler makes a minor dent at WR this weekend.
The 24-year-old was regarded by many as a top wide receiving prospect in last year’s NFL Draft after a stunning career at Iowa State. In three seasons with the Cyclones, Butler amassed 110 catches for 2,149 yards and 18 touchdowns, going out with a bang by setting a single-season school record with 1,318 receiving yards.
After falling all the way to the fourth round and missing his entire rookie season with injury, Butler’s freakishly athletic build makes its way to Philadelphia after a bumpy fall from grace in Arizona. Butler may have struggled to translate his skills to the NFL level, but a shot in the dark for this team is better than none at all right now.
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