Philadelphia Eagles News

Why The Eagles Are Fine At WR

This has been a topic of conversation for weeks now, maybe months. The obsession by some about the wide receiver positions dates back to the early days in the Andy Reid era, and it has taken on various iterations since.

The calls now are to add a starting wide receiver, for even the most basic football fan sees the Eagles' passing game as one that thrives with speed on the outside in the form of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, named in no particular order, a pair of terrific players who complement each other very well and who make defensive coordinators account for both.

And is there a better slot receiver in the land than Jason Avant, who simply goes out and does his work and praises Him for every blessed snap Avant has in the NFL? Avant may not be a flashy guy, a great quote, or a flamboyant wide receiver. He's just a really good football player who happens to do everything right on and off the field.

That gives the Eagles three very fine receivers. Is there a player on a streets who can upgrade over those three? That's the challenge Howie Roseman has every day, to challenge the roster and push the competition and nudge the Eagles closer to the hallowed land of New Orleans in February.

You can argue that the Eagles should have options to make receiver spots four and five better. That's a fair point to have from an outside perspective. And there are a couple of names of veteran receivers who intrigue you -- Plaxico Burress and Mike Williams, to start -- so the chant to bring one in gets a little louder every time a receiver goes down with an injury.

But it isn't going to happen. Not now. Maybe not ever. And here's why: The Eagles like what they have among the other seven receivers in training camp (another, Andrew Brewer, was signed on Tuesday and is eligible to practice on Friday as part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, perhaps the dumbest rule in the history of player transactions).

Riley Cooper, he of the fractured and now surgically repaired clavicle, figures to be healed in time to suit up for the season-opening game in Cleveland on September 9. This generally a four-to-six-week injury and the surgery was deemed a success and Cooper is on the road to recovery.

Cooper should take little time picking up where he left off, and that is as a reliable fourth receiver with good size and excellent hands who made a nice jump in ability and production in the spring and early summer. He's also a core part of Bobby April's special teams, which, in accordance with the 53-man roster, is virtually mandatory in the NFL.

Beyond those four? The Eagles have some options. Chad Hall is the veteran of the group, and no matter what you think of him -- Is he a weapon in the short area or is he a bump up from Reno Mahe? -- you cannot deny that Hall does the job asked of him very well. He is one of the daily standouts in practice. No cornerback squashes him at the line of scrimmage, and every one of those talented cover players has a difficult time sticking with Hall in one-on-one drills.

Moreover, Hall has spent pieces of the last two seasons in regular-season action, and he has been productive as a receiver, a running back, a return man on special teams and as a chase-and-tackle teams player.

Rookie Marvin McNutt has shown up in the last couple of days and has displayed strong hands, a big body and the margin of separation that he hadn't shown in the spring. McNutt is in the process of making his move.

Another rookie, Damaris Johnson, has all kinds of speed and has great quickness and is out to show that the explosiveness he has can be maintained day after day in the grind of training camp.

The rest? They've all shown up and have convinced the coaches that they deserve more reps. Elvis Akpla, Jamel Hamler, Mardy Gilyard (who has been very good of late and who is in the mix on kick returns), Tiger Jones and McKay Jacobson know they face long odds. And they know that the longer they stay around, the better those chances will be to make this 53-man roster, or another team's roster.

There will be a chance to add a veteran down the line. We're still more than a week away from the opening preseason game. The Eagles like what they have seen from their receivers and they want to see more.

The questions are going to continue, of course. Wide receiver is an obsession for Eagles fans. It's natural to ask, Why not?

The answer is, Because we like what we have. And for now, that's just how it is.

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