Philadelphia Eagles News

Chemistry experiment: Wide receivers find ways to make up for lost time

In what seems like no time at all, the Eagles' wide receivers have already formed quite the bond.

It is even more impressive considering they had very few opportunities to build that bond in person. In place of in-person bonding were virtual studying sessions and frequent text exchanges. They leaned on each other to learn what they could through the adverse circumstances of a global pandemic.

But through it all, Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, Quez Watkins, and even undrafted free agent Manasseh Bailey jelled quite well together during the offseason and have continued to do so during Training Camp. They've become so close; it's easy to forget that they came together only a few months ago.

"You would think we've been teammates for years," said Reagor, the Eagles' first-round pick. "We out here helping each other, we're studying the playbook with each other even after meetings, we FaceTime, we're going to different places to do walkthroughs. We're jelling together fine."

"Everybody's got different personalities, but I feel like everybody's personality is a good personality to have when jelling with different teammates," said Hightower, the Eagles' fifth-round pick.

"I feel like our bond is coming closer and closer by the day and it's just steadily building," said Watkins, the second of three sixth-round picks by the Eagles. "A lot of people expect a lot out of us, and we're really just coming together to be one as a group."

But as Watkins alluded to, the bonding is all fine and good until the games begin, as that is when the scrutiny is turned all the way up. The rookies have all of the traits to become potent NFL wideouts, but doing so is easier said than done.

Just ask J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who caught only 10 passes during his rookie season after being selected in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. But to be fair, it wasn't all on Arcega-Whiteside. The wide receiver group bore the brunt of a considerable amount of criticism from fans and the media after a season marred by injuries and an overall lack of production.

In an effort to improve the much-maligned receiving corps, the Eagles selected three speedy receivers in the 2020 draft and signed another as an undrafted free agent.

Although maligned, the unit the rookies are joining still boasts a plethora of talent and experience. DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery headline the group. Greg Ward also returns after a breakthrough 2019 season along with Arcega-Whiteside, who hopes to shine in 2020.

Rounding out the group are Robert Davis and Deontay Burnett, who played significant snaps in 2019 after injuries ravaged the rest of the group.

That makes 10 wide receivers on the roster, including Jeffery, who is currently on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list, which should mean a hotly contested battle for playing time during Training Camp.

However, with Marquise Goodwin opting out of the 2020 NFL season, that opens the door for one of the proverbial young guns to step up in his absence. The question now becomes, are they capable of stepping up to the plate and possibly as soon as Week 1 against Washington? The quarterback believes they are.

"I'm excited for all of those guys," Carson Wentz said. "They all have a great chance to help this team right away this year, even in Week 1. Not to put too much pressure on those guys, but I'm excited to see how they develop here over the next couple of weeks."

But need not worry, Carson. The pressure is already there. It comes from a fan and media base that saw the wide receiver position as one that needed to be addressed in the offseason. But in the face of that inherent pressure, the rookies are determined to change that narrative in 2020.

"We're here to help each other, and I want to see those guys succeed," Reagor said.

Related Content

Advertising