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Philadelphia Eagles News

Training Camp Position Preview: Wide Receiver

A.J. Brown

The Eagles expect this to be, once again, a position of strength within a powerful and well-rounded offense. And, once again, the Eagles are led by two of the very best receivers in the game who complement each other perfectly – the power of A.J. Brown and the silkiness of DeVonta Smith. Make no mistake, though, they are both all-around wide receivers who are matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.

The Eagles also lauded the offseason of fourth-year receiver Quez Watkins, a speedy receiver with big-play capabilities. The team added Olamide Zaccheaus in free agency and Zaccheaus brings versatility, toughness, ability after the catch, and good blocking skills. Britain Covey returns for his second season after earning the team's punt return duties as a rookie, Greg Ward is back to compete for a roster spot and playing time, and Devon Allen, a world-class track star, looks to make the active roster after spending 2022 on the practice squad. Big-bodied Tyrie Cleveland joins the mix to see if he can make a difference and the Eagles added three undrafted players to the room: Jadon Haselwood, Joseph Ngata, and Charleston Rambo. – Dave Spadaro

Did You Know?

• A.J. Brown's 1,496 receiving yards in '22 set a franchise mark, previously held for 38 yards by Mike Quick (1983; 1,409 yards).

• DeVonta Smith's 95 receptions in 2022 established an Eagles record for wide receivers in a single season and he led the team with 196 postseason receiving yards.

• Quez Watkins has averaged 13.3 yards per reception in his career and has 83 catches for 1,107 yards and 5 TDs.

• Britain Covey saw action on 19 offensive snaps in the 2022 season.

• Greg Ward has 88 catches and 10 touchdowns in 40 career NFL games.

• Devon Allen showed his speed and big-play potential in a preseason game against Cleveland, catching a 55-yard TD pass to earn a practice squad spot for 2022.

New to the Nest

• Jadon Haselwood – A one-time five-star recruit out of Georgia, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Haselwood was signed by the Eagles as a rookie free agent following the 2023 NFL Draft. Haselwood started his college career at Oklahoma, where he played with Jalen Hurts and caught 19 receptions for 272 yards and a touchdown as a freshman. He transferred to Arkansas for his senior season and responded with career highs in both receptions (59) and yards (702).

• Joseph Ngata – One of three brothers who played college football, Ngata played four seasons at Clemson where he registered 88 catches for 1,287 yards, and six touchdowns in 45 games (25 starts). The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Ngata was signed by the Eagles as a rookie free agent following the 2023 NFL Draft.

• Charleston Rambo – Rambo parlayed a 10-game stint in the XFL where he caught 35 passes for 430 yards and three touchdowns into a tryout at the Eagles' Rookie Camp in May. He impressed enough to earn a spot on the Training Camp roster. Rambo transferred from Oklahoma, where he teamed with Hurts in the 2019 season, to Miami for his final college season and set school records for catches (79) and receiving yards (1,172) to go along with seven touchdowns and six 100-yard receiving games. He originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Carolina Panthers in 2022, but was waived during the final roster cutdown.

• Olamide Zaccheaus – Zaccheaus is new to the nest, but he's not new to Philadelphia. Zaccheaus was a star at St. Joe's Prep, helping the school win back-to-back state championships as a running back and defensive back. Undrafted out of Virginia, Zaccheaus signed with the Atlanta Falcons and made 94 catches for 1,328 yards and eight touchdowns in his four seasons there. He played a career-high 70 percent of the offensive snaps last season while contributing 40 catches for 533 yards and three touchdowns, all career bests. Zaccheaus has extensive experience lining up all over the formation and helping out on special teams as well. – Chris McPherson

Check out the wide receivers on the Eagles' roster heading into Training Camp, presented by Independence Blue Cross. Players are listed in numerical order.

What Does the Tape Show?

A.J. Brown was a new face a year ago and made as big an impact as any newcomer in football. Now, fully entrenched in this offense alongside DeVonta Smith, look for A.J. to continue feasting on defenses in 2023. The Eagles found a lot of ways to get A.J. the football, but one route that showed up every week was your typical slant pattern. Whether it was in the rhythm three-step pass game or a part of an RPO with Jalen Hurts as a threat to run the ball, Brown beat defenses all season long with these quick in-breakers.

It was tough to find just one play to hone in on here for DeVonta Smith because there are a handful of traits of his that really allow him to excel. His awareness and football I.Q. are top notch. His route running is silky smooth. His ability to come down with contested catches downfield was outstanding. But I have to say, his body control is out of this world. "Alien-like" was the best way I could describe it after these grabs against the Dallas Cowboys late last season. Can't wait to see him catching passes from Hurts again this fall.

Key Stats

547 – Known as more of a "YAC" merchant (see above) during his days with the Tennessee Titans as a madman over the middle of the field, A.J. Brown really showed off his game in 2022. The young veteran proved he could be a true three-level threat in his debut season in Philadelphia, netting 547 yards and six touchdowns off of go routes, according to NextGen Stats. Both of those numbers led the NFL. Brown did all of that while still ranking third in the league at the WR position with 638 yards after the catch.

31.6 – If you look at all of the wide receivers in the NFL who had more than 50 targets last year, Quez Watkins had the second-highest percentage of targets in the deep portion of the field (defined as 20-plus yards by Pro Football Focus) at 31.6 percent. The Eagles know that his speed can really threaten defenses, and they put his wheels to good use. – Fran Duffy

What They Said

"I think, collectively, the group has taken the next step. We've got so many guys and so many playmakers and I feel like there are only so many opportunities and you just have to make the most of your opportunity. We're trying to build a really strong team that wins games." – A.J. Brown

"I know what I need to do to play at the level I want to be at and that's my focus every day. Nothing changes. We're getting ready for the season. We have high goals." – DeVonta Smith

"We know he has a lot of talent, and I'm excited about that. I really like the way he's gone about his business because he can't control anything but what he can control, and he can't control what other people think about him. He can't control anything like that. Can't control things that may have happened to him last year, the opportunities that he got last year or did not get. All he can control is how he works, and I've really been excited about how he's gone about his business." – Head Coach Nick Sirianni and Quez Watkins

"Part of my game is just being reliable and doing whatever the team needs me to do, whether it's blocking, in the slot, catching passes. So that's how I feel like I fit in the offense – whatever the team needs me to do, I'll do. I feel very confident in what I can do, what I bring to the table. So, we'll see what that looks like." – Olamide Zaccheaus

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