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The ‘Future’ Is Now For These Players

Posted Jan 21, 2017

It happens every year and with every NFL team. It’s late in the season and a parade of players come through and work out and then hope for a future. A contract, that is. The Eagles have recently inked a handful of players to reserve/future contracts. Will any of them have an impact here? ...

It happens every year and with every NFL team. It’s late in the season and a parade of players come through and work out and then hope for a future. A contract, that is. The Eagles have recently inked a handful of players to reserve/future contracts. Will any of them have an impact here?

Before the scouting report on the six players, Eagles vice president of personnel Joe Douglas recalls perhaps the most successful reserve/future contract in his NFL years. Douglas, hired by the Baltimore Ravens in 2000, was a player personnel assistant for three seasons before a promotion made him a Northeast area scout. A young player came into the Ravens’ sights late in the 2003 season by the name of James Harrison. An undrafted linebacker coming out of Kent State in 2002, Harrison struggled to gain footing in the NFL and, late in the 2003 campaign, worked out for Baltimore. Harrison was impressive enough to earn a "future" contract, then was sent to the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe and, well, Harrison’s career stalled when Baltimore cut him.

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Big mistake. Harrison signed in the 2004 Training Camp period with Pittsburgh and has played in the league since, making five Pro Bowls and winning a pair of Super Bowls with the Steelers.

“He’s turned out to be a pretty good player, right?” Douglas said, smiling.

For sure. There are success stories to be had in every corner of the roster. Sometimes, all a player needs is a chance. The Eagles are giving the following six a shot and we’re all going to find out together if any of them can make the 53-man roster and maybe, just maybe, a little bit more.

RASHEED BAILEY, WR

Welcome back, Rasheed Bailey. The local kid who had such a strong 2015 preseason for the Eagles is back after seeing some time in Jacksonville and then San Diego, where he suffered a preseason injury last year and was waived.

The Eagles know enough about Bailey, who adds to the competition at wide receiver.

“He is a guy that has route skill, a guy that has ball skills, a guy that we’re excited to have back,” Douglas said.

ANDREW BONNET, FB

A college teammate of quarterback Carson Wentz at North Dakota State, Andrew Bonnet was originally signed last year by Carolina and also played with the Bengals before signing onto the Eagles’ practice squad in September. Bonnet was productive in college as part of those championship teams as a rugged blocker, a capable runner and a very productive pass receiver (56 receptions, 574 yards, and eight touchdowns).

“Andrew is tough as nails,” Douglas said. “You love the competitor. He knows how to win. He’s from a great program. You like the saltiness he brings, the ruggedness and the toughness.”

JOSH LeRIBEUS, G/C

Josh LeRibeus has been in the NFL since 2012 and has started 12 games and has versatility. It seemed unusual that he wasn’t in the league in 2016. He’s played guard and in 2015 he started 11 games at center. But LeRibeus was waived by Washington after the third preseason game last summer and he didn’t sign on with any team the rest of the season.

“Josh was a third-round pick out of Southern Methodist by the Washington Redskins. He’s an undersized guard/center with very good athletic ability,” Douglas said. “He came around midseason for his workout. Everyone really enjoyed being around him. He’s got a great personality. He loves ball. We’re excited about him getting a chance to come in here.”

DALLAS THOMAS, G

There is some real talent here with Dallas Thomas, a third-round draft pick of Miami in 2013. Thomas has 26 starts in his career, including 16 in the 2015 season. Thomas played in 50 games at Tennessee and started for three seasons at both left tackle and left guard.

“He’s a guy that has size, he has feet, he has explosive traits,” Douglas said. “We were very excited about him coming in on a workout. He did a great job for us. We’re excited about him in the future.”

MITCHELL WHITE, CB

The hope with Mitchell White is that some experience gained in the Canadian Football League will help him make it in the NFL. Not drafted after a good career at Michigan State, White initially signed on with Oakland in 2013 and didn’t last. Then he went to the CFL and played for three seasons, winning the Grey Cup and earning all-star recognition last year with Ottawa.

“It’s a similar situation to Aaron Grymes,” said Douglas, referring to the Eagles’ cornerback who reached the NFL through the CFL. “He’s a young man that is a high-level competitor, a guy that can play nickel, he can play outside, he shows ball skills and he is a high-level competitor.”

DOM WILLIAMS, WR

A splendid preseason last summer put Dom Williams on the NFL map. He led San Diego with 10 catches for 132 yards and while he couldn’t crack a very talented wide receiver group, Williams was part of San Diego’s practice squad as a rookie after a terrific career at Washington State.

“Dom is a tall guy; he’s 6-2 plus, he runs in the mid 4.4s (in the 40-yard dash), he has excellent length, he has a big catch radius, very good ball skills,” Douglas said. “We’re excited about adding him to the mix at wideout and letting him compete.”

Who knows how it turns out for these players? They came to the NovaCare Complex during the 2016 season, worked out for the Eagles and earned contracts. The future for them is now as they look to impress and win some love in Philadelphia in 2017.

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