Brandon Gibson didn't have his cell phone turned on Saturday afternoon. In fact, Saturday's 6 PM deadline for teams to cut rosters down to the 53-man limit came and went and Gibson didn't know that he made the team. Back in Seattle, Wash., Gibson finally gave his agent a call around 4:10 PM - it was 7:10 PM in Philadelphia - and learned that he had indeed made the team.
"It's very exciting, but the hard work starts now and I have to get better day in and day out," Gibson said. "I think I came in and played my game. I didn't try to do too much. I just tried to make plays when the ball was in the air and get the assignments correct. That was about it. I feel that I gave a huge amount of effort and I just tried to do my best."
The sixth-round draft pick out of Washington State was considered a long shot to make the team when he was selected. There were already five veteran receivers on the roster and the Eagles used their first-round pick on another one in Jeremy Maclin. The 6-1, 206-pound Gibson was a third-team All-America in 2007 as a junior with 1,180 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He decided to stay for his senior season. Last year, the Cougars changed their offensive scheme from a West Coast to a spread. That combined with the overall struggles with the team caused Gibson's draft stock to drop.
If that wasn't bad enough, his father, Steve, passed away shortly after the season ended and Gibson suffered an injury at the Senior Bowl which kept him from running at the Combine. Still, the Eagles felt that if Gibson was back in a West Coast scheme he could excel. And that's exactly what happened. Gibson's strong, physical frame, smooth route running and secure hands helped him stand out with consistent performances in training camp and the preseason. Gibson had 123 yards on 12 catches including a touchdown in the preseason. One of his catches was an amazing sideline grab on the game-winning drive against the Jaguars.
"I can go out there and make plays. I think that was the biggest thing," Gibson said. "I set myself apart by showing that when the ball is in the air, I'm going to do anything to come down with it. I think I showed that in games. I think I showed the ability to run routes and flourish in this offense. I think that all around I showed that I'm a good football player and a solid wide receiver."
Gibson made it so difficult on the Eagles that they decided to keep seven receivers, all five returning veterans plus the two draft picks. That bit of news came as a surprise to Gibson.
"It was kind of shocking because not every team keeps seven receivers," Gibson said. "I think Buffalo kept seven last year, but it's kind of cool. I'm looking forward to working with all of them."
Just because Gibson is on the team now doesn't mean that he's satisfied. Last season, the Eagles usually activated five receivers for gameday. Gibson doesn't want to be on the sidelines in warmup gear.
"You make the team, that's good, but it doesn't stop right there," he said. "My thing is to go out and prove to people that I can actually play on the field. Now, I'm just trying to work my way into playing time and do the best that I can really."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 12:10 p.m., September 6