Alex Ellis caught a touchdown pass during Eagles training camp Monday and spun the ball in the end zone, but not many of his teammates were there to celebrate with him.
The Eagles’ most recent tight-end acquisition quickly noticed a scrum had broken out a few yards away from him, and joined the outside of the fray.
That wasn’t in the playbook.
Ellis, a Delmar, Del., native, was added to the Eagles’ 90-man roster on Aug. 2. He last played for the Kansas City Chiefs before getting waived in the middle of last season.
With his fifth playbook in the last three seasons, Ellis is one of a handful of players cramming to learn the Eagles’ scheme between practices after getting the call in the middle of training camp.
What is it like picking up a new NFL playbook after camp has already started?
“It’s, uh ... it’s fun,” Ellis said, laughing. “It’s mentally challenging, but I got great people around me, I have a great tight-end group, and I got great coaches that lock me in.
“There’s a lot of late nights and early mornings, but that’s just the name of the game. Everybody’s doing that."
Ellis, an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee who signed with the Titans in 2016, has spent time on the Jaguars’ and Saints’ practice squads. He’s been on the 53-man rosters of the Chiefs and Jaguars.
With Dallas Goedert missing time because of a calf strain and Zach Ertz not expected to play significant snaps in the preseason, Ellis is splitting the first-team tight-end snaps with Joshua Perkins.
He made the most of it during Monday’s practice, catching the touchdown pass and making an impressive diving grab.
Ellis says he copes with the challenges of heavy studying by remembering the low points of his career.
“It’s kind of miserable being out of the football life,” he said. "You’re just sitting there waiting for that next move, so those are the kind of times you think back, ‘Dude, I don’t want to be sitting on the couch right now. I’d rather be sitting here studying.’ "
The motivation seems to be working. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh credited Ellis’ work ethic while learning the system.
“He’s invested a lot of time in trying to learn what to do,” Groh said. “This guy loves football and he competes, he’s tough, and I think each and every day he’s out here, he’s getting that much more comfortable.”
While Ellis has some experience learning playbooks on the fly, his experience doesn’t compare to that of new Eagles defensive lineman Kasim Edebali.
Edebali, a 29-year-old who was born in Germany, was signed by the Eagles last week. During the 2017 season, he was waived by the Denver Broncos in midseason and got picked up by the Detroit Lions a few days later.
“I was in Detroit on Thursday and had to play on Sunday,” he said. “Part of this profession is guys who are able to soak it in quick and show fast that they can do certain things. It’s a good thing.”
Edebali, who broke in with New Orleans as an undrafted free agent out of Boston College in 2014, played one game with Cincinnati last year after playing 61 games in his first four NFL seasons. The Eagles added him after early camp standout Joe Ostman tore an ACL during practice Aug. 4.
Asked what advice Edebali would give young players such as Ellis, he said letting pressure build up isn’t productive.