Eagles rookie Jalen Reagor flashed potential Sunday, but he saw plenty of room for improvement, too
Reagor's splashy 55-yard catch was overshadowed by a handful of mistakes, including a muffed punt and two targets that went incomplete.
When it comes to his shoulder injury, Jalen Reagor has a short-term memory.
The Eagles' first-round pick in last April’s draft suffered a shoulder strain that team doctors told him would take from two to four weeks to completely heal. When asked how he made the recovery in less than two weeks and played Sunday in the Eagles' season opener against Washington, Reagor feigned forgetfulness.
“What injury?" he asked, jokingly.
Reagor’s speedy recovery allowed him to play 59% of the Eagles' offensive snaps during the 27-17 road loss. He was targeted four times and had one catch: a 55-yard reception from Carson Wentz on third-and-22 in the first quarter that set up a field goal. His splashy play was somewhat overshadowed by a handful of mistakes, though: a muffed punt and two targets went awry due to miscues.
The 21-year-old out of TCU and Wentz appeared to struggle with timing on a few occasions. Wentz’s first interception came on a pass to Reagor, who was running a deep out route. Cornerback Fabian Moreau jumped the pass, which came further inside as Reagor released to the sideline.
“It was the route I was supposed to run,” Reagor said. “It was more, maybe our timing was off or something like that. It was nothing bad on my part or his part. We both could have done a better job. I could have done a better job with my route. At this time, you just have to make the quarterback right, so I could have played the ball better.”
The other noteworthy error came on a seemingly overthrown deep pass from Wentz to Reagor at the end of the first half. Reagor had beaten the over-the-top safety help and was open 50 yards down the field, but the pass sailed over his head and out of reach.
Reagor said that missed connection was his mistake.
“It was me,” Reagor said. “Instead of digging out, I looked up early and I was a tad short. It was a great ball by Carson, and I slowed down. It’s little things that matter. So that’s what I’ll be working on, driving out of the top of my routes, and hopefully, it won’t happen again.”
Reagor was the primary punt returner during training camp and got the nod for the first return of the season, but special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said there will continue to be a rotation between him and Greg Ward.
While it seemed Ward was the go-to returner in situations where a return was less likely, Fipp wouldn’t divulge such strategic information. He did say he has confidence in Reagor’s ability to field punts cleanly even though he muffed the first one after Washington opened the game with a three-and-out. The Eagles’ Craig James made the recovery.
“We’re going to hang in there with him," Fipp said. "I thought Greg did a great job. We’re probably going to rotate those guys in and out. A lot of different stuff that goes into that, I’m not going to get into all the specifics. I think you’ll see both those guys back there at some point, or quite a bit in every game throughout the course of the year.”
Fipp also said the team could have helped Reagor more to prevent the muffed punt.
“We didn’t do a good job on the outside slowing those guys down,” Fipp said. “Their two gunners were humming at him a million miles an hour, too fast, too close to him. Our guys were close to him. So we really had four guys in his face. I’m not making excuses for him. ... Obviously it’s not acceptable.”
How rookie receivers fared in Week 1:
There was a record 13 wide receivers taken in the first two rounds of April’s draft, including the Eagles' selection of Reagor with the 21st overall pick. They were mostly quiet in Week 1, with some guys not playing at all. Here’s a look:
Henry Ruggs, Raiders (12th pick): Three catches for 55 yards, including a 45-yarder that set up a touchdown. Saw five targets but none after briefly leaving the game with an injured left knee.
Jerry Jeudy, Broncos (15th): Had eight targets, most of any player on this list, but a killer drop late in the fourth quarter of a two-point loss. Totaled four catches for 56 yards as Denver was without top receiver Courtland Sutton and fellow rookie KJ Hamler.
CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys (17th): Had five catches for 59 yards, though just one in the second half. And that was on a 4th-and-3 when he didn’t run his route deep enough and gained only two yards.
Jalen Reagor, Eagles (21st): Had a 55-yard reception, his only catch in four targets.
Justin Jefferson, Vikings (22nd): Quiet day with two receptions for 26 yards for a team that scored 34 points.
Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers (25th): Did not play because of a hamstring injury.
Tee Higgins, Bengals (33rd): Was not targeted in 15 offensive plays.
Michael Pittman Jr., Colts (34th): Two catches for 10 yards as Philip Rivers hit nine different players.
Laviska Shenault, Jaguars (42nd): Three receptions, 37 yards and a score as his quarterback completed passes to 10 different Jags. Also ran the ball twice for 10 yards.
K.J. Hamler, Broncos (46th): Missed Monday’s game with a hamstring injury but is expected to return in Week 2 against Pittsburgh,
Chase Claypool, Steelers (49th): Had two catches, including a beauty for 28 yards that featured a little toe-drag swag as the young’uns say.
Van Jefferson, Rams (57th): Had one catch for 31 yards in LA’s win over Dallas.
Denzel Mims, Jets (59th): Missed Week 1 with a hamstring injury.