When Carson Wentz and his fellow Eagles quarterbacks started the first position drills of Thursday’s practice, he was flanked by some relatively unfamiliar faces.
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was the only wide receiver running routes who started the season on the 53-man roster. Wentz finished most of his reps targeting the rookie from Stanford, Greg Ward, and this week’s practice-squad call-up Rob Davis.
The Eagles placed Alshon Jeffery on injured reserve on Thursday with a foot injury and promoted Davis, in the latest attempt to restock the wide-receiver position.
Jeffery joins DeSean Jackson on the injured reserve list, and Nelson Agholor is dealing with a nagging knee injury that leaves his status for Sunday’s game against Washington up in the air. With Agholor missing practice again Thursday, the team has just three healthy wideouts on the active roster.
“It keeps changing every week,” Wentz said during his Thursday news conference. “It’s part of the NFL. It’s part of injuries that happen. I think the key is just keeping everyone confident and on the same page. I see a lot of guys throughout the year in practice and the plays that they make.”
Partly because of injuries, the Eagles’ receiving corps has been one of the least productive in the NFL this season. Jeffery was in the midst of his worst season with 43 catches, 490 yards, and four touchdowns. Agholor is posting a career-low 9.3 yards per reception, with three drops and two fumbles.
Davis was added to the practice squad on Oct. 7. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder was one of three receivers on the practice squad, but he got the nod over Marken Michel and Marcus Green. The Eagles might like his size, but his familiarity with their next opponent might have helped his case, too.
The 24-year-old was drafted by Washington in the sixth round in 2017. He started this season with the division foe and caught his first NFL pass, an 11-yard reception against the Giants, in Week 4.
Since he has played for Washington’s scout team, Davis will have some comfort going against the Redskins secondary. He might even need to change some things to avoid being predictable.
“It’s going to be fun to go back out there and see some of my homeboys and play against them again,” Davis said. “It always [helps], knowing some of their tendencies. I’m pretty sure they know some of mine. So, we’ll have to change it up. It will be a fun, competitive game.”
He added: “All those dudes that I’m going against now have been there since I got drafted. I’ve been going against them for three solid years.”
The Eagles struck gold with two practice-squad call-ups in the win against the New York Giants, with running back Boston Scott gaining a career-high 156 yards and Ward catching four passes for 34 yards.
Those performances might have surprised fans, but practice-squad quarterback Kyle Lauletta said he saw them coming.
“It was expected, honestly,” the former Downingtown East star said. “We needed those guys to step up, and without their efforts, we wouldn’t have won the game. I knew both those guys had it in them earlier in the year. Just watching the way they work and watching when they get the ball in practice.”
Lauletta said Davis could fit the bill as a big, physical target for the team moving forward.
“Rob’s worked really hard,” Lauletta said. “He’s made a lot of plays. I think he’s a one-on-one type receiver who is going to go up and get it against man coverage. ... He’s made a lot of plays, so I’m excited to see him this week.”
Wentz doesn’t have as many reps with Davis, but he shares Lauletta’s thoughts on the wideout from Georgia State.
“He’s a big-bodied target,” Wentz said. “He moves well, runs well. Looks like he has great hands. Obviously, he’s been on the scout team quite a bit, so I haven’t had a ton of work with him, but this week has been important to talk through things with him, to get some reps today on the field with him, and I’m excited for him.”