The most talked about position on the Eagles roster will continue to get its fair share of coverage during training camp and rightfully so. The Eagles added a second-round draft pick in DeSean Jackson to the same group of wide receives that helped the offense achieve an NFL ranking of sixth overall last year. That is why the coaches and players have repeated that they believe the team has what it takes to win in 2008 at the wide receiver position.
Kevin Curtis became just the second Eagles wide receiver to tally over 1,000 yards in a single season since head coach Andy Reid took over in 1999. The sixth-year veteran out of Utah State also became just the fourth wideout in franchise history to record 75-or-more receptions in a season. The 6-0, 186-pound Curtis put up career numbers in yards (1,110), receptions (77) and touchdowns (8) in 2007.
On Sept. 23, 2007 against the Detroit Lions, Curtis set career highs in receptions (11), yards (221) and touchdowns (3). His 221-yard outing was the second-highest single-game performance in franchise history, behind Hall of Fame flanker Tommy McDonald's 237-yard output (Dec. 10, 1961).
Reggie Brown is entering his fourth year with the Eagles after being drafted in the second round out of Georgia in 2005. Since joining the Eagles, Brown has played in every game. Brown holds the franchise record for receptions by a rookie (43), led the team in receiving yards (816) and touchdowns (8) in 2006 and has improved his reception total each season (43, 46 and 61). The 6-1, 197-pound Brown finished with four touchdowns and 780 yards receiving last season.
Jason Avant played in 15 games in 2007 finishing with 23 receptions, 267 yards and two touchdowns. A fourth round draft choice in 2006, Avant was also a key contributor on special teams finishing second on the team in special teams production points (261), and fourth with 13 special teams tackles.
Hank Baskett's stats dropped in his sophomore season as compared to his impressive rookie campaign: From 464 receiving yards in 2006 to 142 in 2007, from 22 catches to 16 and from two touchdowns to one. However, Baskett was voted as the Eagles special teams MVP in 2007 after leading the squad with 277 production points. At 6-4, 220 pounds, Baskett still represents the largest target the Eagles have at receiver. Not to mention that he holds the New Mexico high school track and field record with a 7-0 high jump. During his junior year at the University of the New Mexico, Baskett was the Mountain West Conference outdoor champion in the high jump as well.
Greg Lewis has been with the Eagles has been a steady contributor for the Eagles in his five-year career, catching 108 passes for 1,452 yards and six scores. Originally signed as a rookie free agent in 2003, Lewis was quick to absorb the West Coast offense even though he did not start as a senior at Illinois. In 2004, he inked a five-year contract extension through 2011.
The Eagles are very optimistic regarding 21-year-old DeSean Jackson. The 5-10, 175-pound receiver/return man was the 49th overall selection even though some mock drafts had him going in the middle of the 1st round. In his three years at Cal, Jackson scored 29 total touchdowns in 36 career games and set a Pac-10 Conference record with six punt returns for touchdowns in his career, two shy of the NCAA all-time record of eight. A semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff Award (presented annually to the nation's most outstanding college football receiver) in 2007, he caught 65 passes for 762 yards (11.7 avg) and six touchdowns, and finished his career with 2,423 receiving yards and 22 touchdown catches, ranking him third on the school's all-time list in both categories. His 162 catches are the sixth-highest total in school history. As a punt returner, his career average of 16.7 yards per return set a Cal record and ranks second in Pac-10 history behind baseball Hall of Famer, Jackie Robinson of UCLA (18.8).
Bam Childress and Jamal Jones are both free agents with previous NFL experience. Childress played three games with the New England Patriots from 2005-06 and was a member of their practice squad. Jones had six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in 2006 with the New Orleans Saints in the year they reached the NFC title game.
In the same boat with Childress and Jones, fighting for a roster spot, are rookie free agents Shaheer McBride and Frantz Hardy. McBride, a native of Chester, Pa., was a standout at nearby Delaware State and holds school records in receptions (201) and yards (3,007), while adding 33 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Hardy finished with 54 receptions, 971 yards (18.0 avg.) and seven touchdowns during his three-year career at Nebraska.
JUST A YEAR AGO ...
All five of the receivers that were on the opening day roster from last season are still in the mix (Curtis, Brown, Lewis, Baskett and Avant). The Eagles went out in 2007 and signed Kevin Curtis from the St. Louis Rams and he went on to have a career year. Brown started slow but finished strong with 22 receptions for 262 yards in the final four games as he also set a new career high for receptions.
BATTLE TO WATCH: Jason Avant vs. Hank Baskett vs. DeSean Jackson for the slot receiver position.
Avant and Baskett are both entering their third season with the Eagles, while Jackson has lots to learn. Jackson will be called upon to make an immediate impact in the return game, an area that the Eagles have been missing in recent years.