Here's the thing about Jalen Reagor, entering his second season with the Eagles: He isn't backing down. That's just not in his nature. Injuries slowed his rookie season, limiting the team's 2020 first-round draft pick to 11 games and 31 receptions, but that isn't clouding his vision. Reagor expects big things ahead, and he's working toward that goal.
"It's about consistency, doing it every day, and then in game situations making the most of your opportunities," he said, "and it's also about availability. The best ability is availability. Those are the things I'm working on. I think things are going to go great."
Watching the wide receiver group work at the NovaCare Complex in this modified offseason program is a study in projection. As second-year coach Aaron Moorehead puts his guys through their paces – one-legged hop, hop, hop, then hold, dip and break – you see just how young and developing and talented they are. Moorehead wants perfection as the receivers run their routes and use the instruments in their toolbox to create separation – their hands, their leverage, the sleight-of-body movements as they get in and out of their breaks. Head Coach Nick Sirianni jumps in and coaches up the players as the energy level magnifies.
Reagor runs a short out route, plants his right foot hard in the ground as he turns toward the sideline, makes the catch, and drags his back foot to complete the rep. Everything is tight, right. Year 2 is off to a good start for Reagor.
"I've gone through everything and I'm in a different place," he said. "I'm looking for that big jump. I want to be a complete wide receiver, mastering the things that take no talent and fine-tuning the details and doing everything with intent, and just knowing that I'm blessed as well and letting my God-given talent take over."
Reagor is brimming with confidence. He and Moorehead are building on what they started last season when we all saw glimpses of what made the Eagles like Reagor so much – the explosiveness after the catch, the ability to make big plays, his body strength – and the goal this year is to bring that to the table every week. Every day. Every game. The plan is to make the wide receivers interchangeable, meaning they will play all three positions so that the coaches can best take advantage of matchups.
The Eagles have a wide receiver group that welcomes 2021 first-round draft choice DeVonta Smith to the mix and all impressions of Smith have been highly favorable through the offseason. The practices are walkthroughs, but the urgency is clear. There is some major competition at wide receiver, a bunch of young players who look around and see that the Eagles have used first-round draft picks on wide receiver the last two springs and that players like J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward and John Hightower and Quez Watkins are returning and they want more in 2021.
"This offseason, it's about having intent with everything that I do," Reagor said. "I worked out with the guys building chemistry and doing everything that I felt personally that I didn't do well last year and also working on things that I can increase and do better at."
Much of the focus for the media and the fans in the last month has been on Smith, the 10th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He's the shiny new toy in the Eagles' offense, and Sirianni and Offensive Coordinator Shane Steichen are crafting ways to get the ball in No. 6's hands. Same with Reagor. He made his biggest jump in college from his freshman season to his sophomore season and that is the path Reagor sees for the season ahead. The Eagles have a pair of cornerstone wide receivers, a room full of players pushing each other, and a collective chip on the shoulder to live up to high expectations.
"I love what we have going on here," Reagor said. "I'm confident. I'm in good spirits and I think it's going to get better and better."
Who won't be watching the wide receivers when the pads go on in Training Camp? The talent is there, and while the Eagles are young at wide receiver, the kids are going to need to grow up in a hurry. Ward, Arcega-Whiteside, and Fulgham enter their third seasons. Reagor, Hightower, and Watkins are in Year 2. Khalil Tate is learning the position after playing quarterback in college. Smith, Trevon Grimes, and Jhamon Ausbon are rookies.
"We're all going to grow together and jell together," Reagor said. "It's fun, pushing and competing and working toward something special in that room."
In Year 2, everything is smoother for Reagor and it shows as he details his work on and off the field. The thought of Reagor and Smith complementing each other and of a young receiver corps making strides together, that's the core of the pass-catching game for the Eagles ahead.
"I'm confident," Reagor said, "that we're going to be doing big things ahead."