A week removed from failing a conditioning test and starting training camp partially sidelined, Jalen Reagor said he’s in a better place.
The Eagles’ 2020 first-round pick had to cope with the murder of a childhood friend and there were concerns about his physical and mental state going into training camp. Reagor started camp limited with “lower-body tightness,” as a result of his lack of conditioning, sitting out team drills for the first stretch of practices.
Reagor returned as a full participant this week and addressed his rocky start to the new season during a Tuesday news conference.
“I just appreciate coach [Nick Sirianni] holding me accountable for all the things going on,” The 22-year-old said. “That’s all in the past. I’m just looking forward to the future, I’m out on the field now, so that’s what I’m pretty much focused on.”
Reagor said it’s been difficult coming to grips with the death of a friend, who he’s called “Glizzy” on social media, but emphasized the positive impact returning to the field has had for his mental health.
“That was like a little brother to me,” Reagor said. “It was hard to deal with and then, you know, Saturday was his funeral. I wasn’t able to be there. It’s hard to deal with, but in a mental state, I’m doing way better. ...
“This is like where I can get away. You go home, you have family checking on you and asking if you’re OK. Then I go in the locker room and I have seven of my teammates checking on me, but they’re also making sure I’m in good spirits. It’s helpful, with the head coach doing the same thing. That’s big.”
This will be a pivotal year for Reagor, who had an up-and-down rookie season in which he caught 31 passes for 396 yards and one touchdown after being taken 21st in last year’s NFL draft, one pick ahead of Vikings’ Pro Bowl receiver Justin Jefferson. He was expected to add an explosive threat to an offense that lacked chunk plays, but battled through injuries and never carved out a defined role outside of an occasional gadget guy.
Even though Reagor missed some valuable reps at the start of camp, Sirianni said he wasn’t concerned about the former TCU standout last week.
“We obviously want all our guys out there every single day,” Sirianni said. “Jalen had to go through some things that I can’t even imagine going through that he had to deal with, so I know that mentally, he has to get himself in a [good] spot. So, I’m not concerned.”
Reagor’s return to team drills on Monday coincided with rookie DeVonta Smith’s departure with a sprained MCL, so the pair of first-round receivers will have to wait a couple weeks before sharing the field in an 11-on-11 setting.
One of Reagor’s brightest moments so far came last week when he beat Darius Slay in receiver-corner one-on-ones. In Smith’s absence, Reagor’s mostly worked with the first-team offense aside from a few reps. He’s been joined by Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, and Quez Watkins. Watkins has put together consecutive impressive practices, making a handful of highlight plays in each of the last two days.
“I’ve been very pleased with the entire group,” Sirianni said Tuesday. “I think [passing-game coordinator] Kevin Patullo keeps coming up to me and he keeps saying, ‘We didn’t have this speed in Indy.’ He’s like, ‘And we sure as heck didn’t have it right away.’ We’re seeing that we’ve got some guys that can really run, so I’m really excited about that.”