The preseason is meant for on-the-cusp players to take advantage of the opportunity they have been given to make the team. That is exactly what wide receiver Greg Ward did Thursday night in the victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ward provided the play of the game with a 38-yard catch-and-run from Clayton Thorson that resulted in a touchdown, and ultimately got the ball rolling for the offense in a 24-10 victory.
"The guy was playing heavy with his feet and heavy with his hands," Ward said about the touchdown play, a fourth-down conversion. "I was able to get his hands off of me, spring myself open. (Thorson) gave me an opportunity and I made the catch. After that, the will to win, just trying to go score."
Ward finished the game with two completions on two targets for a total of 42 yards. Along with his impressive offensive presence, his continuous efforts on special teams add to his value as a well-rounded player. Ward's determined to contribute to this team in any way he can, which is why he has enlisted the help of Pro Bowl veteran Malcolm Jenkins on critiquing his performance on special teams.
"I'm talking to Malcolm Jenkins every day, seeing what I can do better, seeing how I can improve," Ward said. "Watching film, being critical on myself, just focusing in on that. I was talking to him during the game, asking him to watch every single rep. I would come to him after that rep and ask him what I can do better. That is someone I can always talk to."
While a lot of the guys fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster are first-time Eagles, this is not the case for Ward. The Houston product is in the midst of his third stint with the Eagles after spending a majority of his first two years in the NFL on the team's practice squad.
"I'm studying like I'm a rookie," Ward said. "I'm studying like I have something to prove which I really do. My main focus is doing it for my teammates and my family. I just keep that in the back of my head every single day. Try to come out here and do my best."
The last two years have been difficult for Ward as he's battled the stress that comes along with the uncertainty of being on the practice squad. He spoke openly about how this game affects his mental state and the importance of faith in his football journey.
"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."
Ward has endured everything that comes along with this game and because of that, his maturity level has increased. His experience in this league sets him apart from others fighting for a roster spot and he intends to use that to his advantage.
"Experience teaches you a lot," Ward said. "If you don't learn from it, it will continue to beat you. I don't ever want that to happen, so I'm just learning from mistakes and from past experiences."