The Eagles made a roster move on Saturday afternoon promoting wide receiver Greg Ward from the practice squad to the active roster. To make room for him, tackle Jordan Mailata (back) was placed on Injured Reserve.
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson (abdomen) is out for Sunday's game against the Lions, and Alshon Jeffery (calf) is questionable. Ward gives the Eagles insurance if Jeffery is unable to play, plus adds another special teams option as Mack Hollins is expected to see an increased role on offense regardless of Jeffery's status. Ward joins Hollins, Nelson Agholor, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as the healthy receivers for Sunday.
Ward was originally signed by the Eagles as a rookie free agent out of Houston in 2017. Ward earned a spot on the practice squad and was part of the Super Bowl LII Championship team. He was brought back in 2018, but only spent the first week of the regular season on the practice squad.
In the 2019 offseason, Ward played for the San Antonio AAF franchise and caught 22 passes for 214 yards and added a punt return touchdown. In this past preseason, Ward was tied for second on the team with six catches for 87 yards and a touchdown, working primarily as a slot receiver. But it resulted in another invitation to the practice squad.
"Greg’s done a tremendous job and really I don’t have an answer what he could have done more other than we’re trying to balance everyone we have at every position and what we’re looking for offensively, defensively, and on special teams, and sometimes it just comes down to looking for a specific role for a specific spot," Executive vice president/general manager Howie Roseman said when the initial 53-player roster was announced. "When we look at the wide receiver room and what we were looking for and what Greg had done on special teams and maybe what we were looking for from that fifth receiver spot on special teams, it was just not something that he had done."
Ward opened up during the preseason about the challenges of battling through the disappointment over the past couple of years,
“It has been really tough. I went through a lot of stuff mentally. Just mastering your mind, that’s the key to it," Ward said. "If you have that faith, if you have that belief, you can go out there and do anything. I’ve been keeping the faith, praying every night, going to church, just working hard. Eventually, one day I know it will pay off. I’m being patient and going out here like every day is my last.”
The patience paid off as Ward finally earned a spot on an active roster, with a chance to make his NFL regular-season debut on Sunday.