During his college career, Emil Igwenagu played four different positions - tight end, fullback, running back and linebacker.
That versatility proved to be beneficial when Igwenagu made his NFL debut last Thursday against Cincinnati. The rookie free agent out of UMass took over fullback duties when Stanley Havili was sidelined by an injured hamstring and was the second tight end with Brent Celek out due to a concussion.
"It's important to be able to do both," said Igwenagu, who made history as the first UMass alum to ever play for the Eagles. "A lot of the stuff schematically is similar, so it's going to be good to get an opportunity to do both."
Igwenagu spent the entire season on the team's practice squad before he was promoted to the active roster last Wednesday just one day before the game against the Bengals. Igwenagu credited his ability to focus on the details as being the key in making the quick transition from practice to game action.
"Just focusing in on fundamentals. That's the thing with me," Igwenagu said. "I needed to stop looking at everything so broad and focus on the little things. That was it for me."
In his first snap at fullback, Igwenagu helped pave the way for an 8-yard gain by running back Bryce Brown. However, on the next play, Igwenagu was called for holding showing the rookie that there is plenty of room for improvement.
"There were things that I know I could have done better as well," Igwenagu said. "It's back to the drawing board with that."
Igwenagu had six catches for 36 yards in the four preseason games. Certainly, it was a challenge for Igwenagu to make the jump from the FCS-level college game to the pros, but it wasn't until last Thursday when he could truly see if he belonged with the big boys, so to speak.
"You don't really get to put that to the test until you are on the field," Igwenagu said. "It was a good experience to get out there and be able to accomplish that."
With Clay Harbor done for the season with a back injury and Stanley Havili likely out for Sunday's game against Washington, Igwenagu will remain as the backup at tight end to Celek and a reserve fullback to Chris Polk. Igwenagu has two more chances to show what he can do at this level, but don't expect Igwenagu to look that far down the line.
"I only need to take it step by step," Igwenagu said. "I can't look at the general and the broad picture. I've been trying to think of the task at hand which is this upcoming week."
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