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Rookie Update: Lots Of Instant Impact

Posted Oct 16, 2014

The Eagles have had an exceptional crop of young faces produce at a high level this season. Through six games, the eight rookies on the active roster have left lasting impacts and played a big role in the team's 5-1 record. Here's a look at what the impressive young guns acquired under the guidance of general manager Howie Roseman have done thus far:

NT Beau Allen

Rookie nose tackle Beau Allen has epitomized Chip Kelly's ideas about defensive pass rushing this season. Through six games, Allen only has five tackles, but he's played a huge role in the pass rush's resurgence in the last three games. Kelly has talked a lot about moving the quarterback being equally important as registering a sack, and Allen is playing selfless defense in his first year.

Signature Stat: Allen has taken 88 snaps on defense and an additional 38 snaps on special teams, proving to his coaches - and to the fans - that he'll do whatever it takes to help his team succeed.

TE Trey Burton

At the University of Florida, Trey Burton was a utility man, playing a number of different positions, as needed. As a rookie this season, Burton has done the same thing, playing tight end, running back and special teams monster. He rushed for 10 yards in the Eagles' Week 6 win over the Giants and has four special teams tackles through six games, fifth-most on the team.

Signature Moment: In the first half of the Eagles' Week 4 loss to the 49ers, Burton blocked an Andy Lee punt that was recovered by wide receiver Brad Smith for a touchdown. The block was instrumental in the special teams unit's recent surge in confidence and unbelievable production.

DE Taylor Hart

Rookie Taylor Hart has spent the first six games of his career building skills behind the scenes, waiting for his first taste of regular season action. The reality is that it's tough to crack a defensive line rotation that has contributed to 16 sacks in the last three games and is firing on all cylinders. But the Eagles have been nagged by the injury bug this season, and if Hart ends up seeing time, the rookie will be more than ready.

WR Josh Huff

Chip Kelly likes his players to be fast, and they don't come much faster than rookie wide receiver Josh Huff. The former Oregon Duck has played 63 snaps on offense and special teams in the past two games since recovering from a shoulder injury and has only just begun to leave his mark on the Eagles' offense, with one catch to his name before the bye week.

Signature Moment: His first career catch came with just over two minutes left in the first half of the Eagles' win over the St. Louis Rams. The 4-yard catch helped keep the drive going, a drive which ultimately resulted in a 9-yard touchdown pass to Riley Cooper to give the Eagles a 20-7 lead at the half.

WR Jordan Matthews

Giving an offense already overflowing with weapons yet another one? Talk about making Chip Kelly happy. Rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews has given the Eagles an exceptionally dangerous threat in the slot. Through six games the rookie has caught 23 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Entering Week 7, Matthews ranks sixth among rookie wide receivers in terms of yards.

Signature Moment: Matthews pulled in a pair of 11-yard touchdowns in the final six minutes of the first half of the Eagles' Week 3 win over Washington. His second score gave the Eagles a 21-20 lead, their first halftime lead of the season at the time, and proved crucial in the 37-34 win.

K Cody Parkey

In talking about key offseason acquisitions for the Eagles, safety Malcolm Jenkins and running back Darren Sproles come to mind immediately. Another name that should arise is rookie kicker Cody Parkey, who has taken the Eagles' kicking game to an entirely new level this season. Through six games Parkey has drained 12 of 13 field goal attempts, good for eighth in the league. The former Auburn Tiger has made at least two field goals in each of the Eagles' five wins this year and has made both of his attempts from beyond 50 yards. Parkey has also been very good in helping dictate field position with his kickoffs. He has 22 touchbacks and all but only three of his 38 kickoffs have reached the end zone.

Signature Moment: Parkey nailed a 51-yard field goal in his first game in the NFL to tie the Eagles' Week 1 contest with Jacksonville at 17-17. The kick kept the Eagles' second-half momentum rolling and they rode it all the way to an ever-important season-opening win.

LB Marcus Smith II

In just four games of action, rookie linebacker Marcus Smith II has shown a ton of promise, all hinging on his impressive athleticism and ability to adapt. He, too, has played selfless football, taking 44 snaps on defense and 27 snaps on one of the most prolific special teams units in team history.

Signature Moment: Smith's willingness to try anything has seen him get extra play time, sliding to inside linebacker when Mychal Kendricks went down with a calf injury in Week 2. Smith has contributed to the inside linebacker rotation alongside Emmanuel Acho and Casey Matthews, adapting to a new position in a short amount of time.

CB Jaylen Watkins

Cornerback Jaylen Watkins is taking a traditional rookie route to playing time: slowly, but surely, it's coming his way. The former Florida Gator has been active for two games so far this season and recorded his first career tackle in the Eagles' Week 6 win over the Giants, playing 17 special teams snaps.

Signature Moment: Watkins' first career tackle came on Black Sunday. Watkins made a huge special teams tackle - both in importance and level of destruction - on Giants' wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. for a loss on the play. Watkins pinned the Giants at their own 15, helping ensure the Eagles would take a demonstrative 20-0 lead into halftime.

Practice Squad

Offensive linemen Josh Andrews and Kevin Graf, defensive lineman Wade Keliikipi, wide receiver Quron Pratt and safety Ed Reynolds II all continue to work and develop behind the scenes, preparing for their chance should it arise. Chip Kelly emphasized Monday the importance of every backup practicing like they'll eventually be the starter and these rookies have taken their head coach's sentiment to heart.

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