Emil Igwenagu may be as close to a football Renaissance man as there is on the Eagles' roster. Sure, it's not uncommon for NFL players to star on both sides of the ball in high school. But Igwenagu was also a true jack-of-all-trades in college at Massachusetts. Not only did he play running back, fullback and tight end, he also spent time as a linebacker.
Igwenagu brings that versatility to the Eagles during Training Camp. The Eagles signed Igwenagu as a fullback, where took all his reps throughout spring practice. But when Brent Celek went down early in Training Camp with an MCL sprain, the Eagles let Igwenagu's malleability show and gave the rookie the lion's share of his reps at tight end. For him, that versatility may mean the difference between making the team and sitting home on Sundays.
"Nowadays everybody has to play a little bit of everything," he said. "Versatility is key because the roster is only so deep on game day. So being able to do a little bit of everything, as well as special teams, is big."
Igwenagu's flexibility has caught the eye of those around him at Lehigh. Head coach Andy Reid was asked about the fullback after Friday morning's walkthrough and only had good things to say.
"We brought him in here to be a fullback, but when (tight end Brent) Celek went down, we thought we'd move him over and just give him a shot there," Reid said. "Smart, smart kid, able to pick all of that up. That's a tough thing to do, but he's handling it and doing a good job with it."
Reid wasn't the only who's noticed. He has also caught the eye of wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
"I have no idea how to pronounce his name," Maclin joked. "I think it's definitely helping him out, being able to be versatile and do so many different things. We've seen some good things out of him. Obviously he has to go out there and continue to do good things and to compete and just let his talent show. But I think he's definitely a guy that can definitely help himself out by doing so many different things."
Igwenagu isn't letting the praise get to him. While he hopes he's making an impression, Igwenagu is solely focused on doing both jobs well.
"I don't really worry about all that stuff," he said. "I just take what they give me and try to do the best with it.
"Obviously training camp is rough, physically and mentally, I'm just trying to eliminate the mental mistakes and play to a high capacity."
On a roster loaded with talent, it may behoove the Eagles to consider bringing in a player who can fit in at more than one position come game time. For Igwenagu, he isn't worried about the numbers game. He's only worried about making the most of his opportunities, wherever they come from.
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