Philadelphia Eagles News

Familiar Story: Eagles May Need Reserves To Step Up Big

If there is any worry that the Eagles are opening the 2018 regular season without franchise quarterback Carson Wentz and potentially starting wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and maybe wide receiver Mack Hollins and running back Jay Ajayi, the team sure isn't showing it.

They expect whoever plays on Thursday night against Atlanta to step up and play ball.

"We did it last year and we believe in the players on this team," wide receiver Nelson Agholor said on Monday after practice at the NovaCare Complex. "You do your job. We have confidence in every player on this roster. If one guy can't go, the next man steps up and plays. It's as simple as that."

While Wentz has been ruled out for Thursday's game as head coach Doug Pederson named Nick Foles the starter for the opener, the team also has to figure out who is going to play where at key spots in the offense. Jeffery, still recovering from offseason surgery on a torn rotator cuff that he played with last season, didn't practice on Monday. Neither did Hollins, who is recovering from offseason sports hernia surgery. Ajayi, with a foot injury, practiced on a limited basis and while he maintains he'll be "good to go" on Thursday, well, you just never know.

The Eagles, after making their Super Bowl run last season with some backups at key positions – namely, quarterback, middle linebacker, and left tackle – could be picking up where they left off in that sense.

"Physically, I feel good," Hollins insisted on Monday. "I feel good. I feel ready. Not having Alshon is obviously a shot to the offense, but it's just an opportunity for us to step up and make plays and take care of business."

The Eagles are banking on having another couple of days of good practices to build some momentum heading into the Thursday game. The preseason was not productive for the offense, primarily because the Eagles just didn't play a lot of their regulars and didn't have time to build cohesiveness.

"That's the biggest thing," Hollins said. "I think just having a real game where we can all be out there together, that's what it's going to take for our offense to come together. Until you play that full game together, you really can't get that full jell. Practice can only get you so far. This first game is going to be an opportunity for us to really get together and mesh."

Agholor's role from last year, when he blossomed as an inside receiver, could change for Thursday night if Jeffery is out and Hollins is limited. He could play more on the outside, something he did through college and his first two seasons with the Eagles. That's not a problem, insists Agholor, who just wants to pitch in and help open the season with a victory.

"Whatever opportunities that come your way, you have to take advantage of them," Agholor said. "If I'm moving around, that's fine with me. If I'm a target, I have to make plays. Just go out there and play the game hard and do what I have to do. Whatever the coaches want me to do, I'm doing to deliver."

That's the right mindset. And it's one that may come into reality if the Eagles find themselves on Thursday night in familiar territory: Needing every part of the roster to contribute with some key starters unable to play.

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