As the end of preseason draws near, there’s one player whose stock surprisingly continues to plummet. Where is the man who led the Eagles in receiving last year? Has Travis Fulgham fallen back down to earth?
The rise of Travis Fulgham was a great story last season. He burst onto the scene with receiving depth down to its bare bones, catching a game-winning touchdown against the Niners and following it up with a historical performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he caught 10 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. Fulgham became only the third Eagles receiver since 2016 to catch for over 150 yards. He would go on to lead the entire NFL in receiving through a 4 week period, looking as though he was ready to take a stunning leap into a starting role.
But then Alshon Jeffery returned from his injury, and his snap counts immediately started to diminish. He ended the season on a four-game run where he amassed just 104 yards on 9 catches. By contrast, he amassed 435 yards and 4 touchdowns during that iconic four-game run after his debut.
An offseason of transition saw Alshon Jeffery finally removed from the picture, pushing Travis Fulgham back to the front of the pecking order…but then what many presumed to be the calm before the storm, became the calm of the norm.
Fulgham’s offseason has been nearly silent. While players such as Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor have consistently shone down at the NovaCare Complex, the ODU product has done little to stand out, which is concerning given how competitive this young room of receivers truly is.
Watkins, Reagor, and first-round pick DeVonta Smith all naturally have limited game experience at this time. Fulgham is oddly among the more experienced of the group, having played in 48% of snaps last year, second at the position only to Greg Ward. He’s also the only viable big-body target that the team have, who has shown some versatility to work out of the slot.
Nick Sirianni leaned on the big body of Michael Pittman while parking him with Zach Pascal and T.Y Hilton last season. The Eagles have a very similar structure in their wide receiver room. While Watkins will provide the ability to take the top off, the Eagles can’t be naive in thinking that’s all they need…but there is a balance. Fulgham has to prove that he can be plugged in and perform immediately as opposed to needing plenty of volume to heat up.
If Fulgham is healthy and can nullify signs of regression in this new offense then he has to be the WR3 option with the idea of rotating that spot with Quez Watkins depending on the gameplan that week. If Sirianni plays his cards right, the Eagles should have a very good WR rotation this season. With a huge diversity in abilities, the team should be able to find more offensive success this season…but that all depends on whether or not Fulgham can break his own curse.
We all know just how good he can be, but he’s not going to be getting 7-8 targets per game any more. DeVonta Smith is the top dog, with Reagor, Watkins, and Hightower, and Ward, all demanding slices of the pie. If Fulgham can’t perform in a pinch, the Eagles will have no choice but to ride the hot hands, which is a shame because when Fulgham’s start burning, very few can burn brighter.
This final preseason game will likely be boom or bust for a player who has played to the level of both words during the course of his first year with the Eagles. After a dull summer, he has one last chance to make his mark.
Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire