Doug Pederson isn't the only former player added to the coaching staff this offseason. Greg Lewis, the only wide receiver to catch a touchdown for the Eagles in the Super Bowl, is back in the city where he played for six seasons from 2003-08.
"It's been a welcome, smooth transition. It feels like home for me and my family," Lewis said.
The Eagles have invested a lot of resources into the wide receiver position in recent years. Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff were second- and third-round picks, respectively, in the 2014 NFL Draft. Nelson Agholor was the team's top selection in 2015. This offseason, veterans Chris Givens and Rueben Randle were added on the free agent market.
"I see guys who have a different skill set all around that all mesh well together because everyone does something different that's good, real good," Lewis said. "You have no idea where the ball is going. That gives us an advantage in my opinion."
Lewis knows how to maximize talent. A rookie free agent, Lewis was a smooth route runner who caught 127 receptions for 1,699 yards and seven touchdowns as an Eagle. He spent the final two seasons of his career in Minnesota and hauled in a thrilling, game-winning catch with two seconds remaining in a win over San Francisco. He was a part of teams that played in five NFC Championships.
With a week of Training Camp in the books, Lewis offered his thoughts on the receivers.
Agholor battled a high-ankle sprain and was never a consistent threat in the Eagles' offense as a rookie. There were flashes with a 53-yard touchdown in a win over Buffalo and a 45-yard grab against Washington. Lewis said that Agholor needed the year to learn how to be a professional.
"He is someone who is dedicated to improving his craft and getting better for himself. That's my big thing," Lewis said. "Philadelphia is the best city for football in America. But it's also a tough city to be in. You have to be mentally tough and you have to block out the outside noise. That's one thing I talk to our guys about on a regular basis. It's human to hear things."
Givens spent the first four seasons of his NFL career in St. Louis and Baltimore known as a home run threat. In 2012, he set an NFL rookie record for consecutive games with a reception of at least 50 yards (5).
Lewis is working on turning Givens into a more complete receiver.
"Throughout his career, he's been a post. He's been a go. He's been a double-move, deep-down-the-field-type of a receiver. That's great. I understand he could do it. I saw it. I want you to do this other stuff and continue to do what you do well already," Givens said.
"Definitely. I've seen the progress where he's been able to sink his hips and get out of different routes, make plays, contested plays. When you're a down-the-field receiver, they look at you as fast, but not as physical. Chris is a physical player when he's out there on the field. He's run a few slants or shallow crosses where he's coming underneath and it's a bang-bang-type of throw. He's been making those plays."
Like with Agholor, Huff has shown flashes in his first two seasons. He owns the record for the longest kickoff return in franchise history. He scored on explosive plays against the Saints and Bucs last year. However, he has just 35 catches for 410 yards and three touchdowns.
"I sit right next to Josh in every meeting we have," Lewis said. "He's a guy who is asking questions continuously. He wants to be great and he has the skill set to be great. It's just putting it all together on a consistent basis. Since I've gotten here, he's had ups and downs, but there's been a lot more ups in my opinion.
"He's extremely good with the ball in his hands. I think he's one of the best on our team right now with the ball in his hands doing some special stuff, but he's not limited to that."
In his first two NFL seasons, Matthews hauled in 152 receptions. Only nine players in NFL history have caught more.
Matthews flourished in the slot and is expected to remain there in 2016. But Lewis said don't be surprised to see the former second-round pick on the outside at times.
"He's one of the hardest workers, one of the most diligent guys in the classroom. He's just as competitive as can be," Lewis said. "He brings that every day and that shows on Sunday when he's out there making plays.
"Jordan's a unique player. His skill set is just special for someone inside in the slot because the guys that you're going against are normally quicker and faster, but they're shorter. Jordan is just as quick, just as fast as those guys in the slot, but now he brings that element of size and strength. That's an advantage for us in that situation, but he can do the same thing outside."
The 6-2, 208-pound Randle had a career-high eight touchdowns for the Giants in 2015. One year earlier, Randle set personal bests with 71 catches for 938 yards.
He signed a one-year deal with the Eagles in free agency and made one of the nastiest catches in Training Camp thus far. Lewis didn't want to give Randle too much credit, but admitted it was "sick" reception.
"Do I think he's tapped into all of his talent? No, not yet," Lewis said. "I think there's still room and he's put up almost 1,000 yards in a season. That's saying a lot.
"He's been in the league, going on his fifth year. He's played at a high level. He's been a professional football player, starting in this league for three years. He's done a great job at it. He's brought leadership. He's not a talkative guy. He's not going to rah, rah, and cheerlead. When something needs to be said, Roob has said it and guys are going to listen."
Who Else Is In The Mix?
Lewis admitted that the rookie free agents - players like Marcus Johnson, Cayleb Jones, Hunter Sharp and Paul Turner among others - hold a special place because that's how he started his career.
"I know what it takes. I'm going to be hard on those guys because I know what it is to be at the bottom of the depth chart," Lewis said. "The way I made it was to work harder and to outwork people. Whatever was needed, whether it was a look team or special teams. Whether it was giving someone a rest and knowing I'm not getting the ball. I'm going 100 miles per hour, doing whatever I need to do to show up on tape to show that I'm here for the team and I'm going to do what's best for the team."