Jalen Reagor still doesn’t want to compare his rookie season with those of wide receivers on other teams, but he has no problem comparing his year with his expectations.
“It wasn’t enough,” Reagor said Thursday, as he and the Eagles prepared for a meaningless finale at home Sunday night against Washington, which can win the NFC East by beating them. “It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough for the team. It wasn’t enough personally.
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“You just got to keep improving … sometimes you got to look yourself in the mirror and see where you can improve … all you can do is ‘incline,’ and that’s what I’m looking to do.”
Reagor has played in 10 games now, with 30 catches for 381 yards, 12.7 yards per catch, one receiving touchdown, another TD on a 73-yard punt return. Over 15 games, the most a rookie pass-catcher could have played thus far, Reagor’s receiving numbers project to 45 catches for 571.5 yards.
That still wouldn’t put him in the same universe as Justin Jefferson, taken by Minnesota one pick after the Eagles drafted Reagor 21st overall. Jefferson, with 79 catches for 1,267 yards, is likely to be the league’s offensive rookie of the year.
Reagor’s projected totals also wouldn’t compare with those of other guys who were on the board when the Eagles reached for Reagor: Brandon Aiyuk, drafted 25th overall by the 49ers, has 60 catches for 748 yards. Tee Higgins, drafted with the first pick of the second round, 33rd overall by the Bengals, has 67 catches for 908 yards. Chase Claypool, drafted 49th overall by the Steelers, has 57 catches for 772 yards.
But it might not be fair to draw conclusions from projected totals for a player who came back from a preseason shoulder injury and a Week 2 broken thumb. Reagor lost development time, practice reps, in a year that offered truncated offseason work and no preseason games. He hinted Thursday that he wasn’t as ready as he might have been for the two games he played at the start of the season, having missed so much preseason time.
“It’s just been a test, trials and tribulations. I would say it was a lot of good things just to build my character, and I feel like everything happens for a reason,” Reagor said.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson talked Wednesday of how he is seeing things now from Reagor that he thought he’d see much earlier.
“That growth process, you’re starting to see glimpses of it now, toward the end of the season with him, that we were hoping for in Weeks 3 and 4 in the regular season, but he had the injury [Week 2] and it set him back,” Pederson said.
How his season would have gone without injuries is “something that nobody will ever know,” Reagor said. “I feel there’d be more timing, because that’s big, missing five games. … Some tough breaks, some bumps in the road, but that’s why I said I feel like it built my character, because it’s different.”
Reagor reiterated the view he expressed earlier in the season, that the rookie receivers’ situations are different — injuries, systems, quarterbacks, the number of times they are targeted. He turns 22 on Saturday, and he said he believes he will have plenty of time to state his case.
“When you go through things, it builds you up, and I feel like my lows are going to prepare me for my highs. I’m not worried, this is my first year,” he said. “If I’m going to sit here and bash myself about one year, not even a complete year, I mean, I’m looking to play [many] years, so I’ll be just fine.
“It doesn’t rain forever.”
Reagor said the missed touchdown Sunday at Dallas wasn’t a matter of Jalen Hurts’ throwing a poor pass, it was more that they just haven’t worked together that much.
“It’s just timing. … It wasn’t necessarily Jalen missed me, it was just us trying to take a shot, and you know, it didn’t complete. … just timing. We’ve been together a short time, so we’ll only get better, and those things will become night and day,” he said.
Reagor caught 10 passes the last three weeks — the three games Hurts has started — for 125 yards. That isn’t eyebrow-raising, but it is an uptick from the numbers he posted when Carson Wentz was starting.
Last week, Reagor said that Hurts “says a lot of things that you would expect from, like, a third-year, fourth-year, fifth-year quarterback … that’s built in him. That’s something you can’t teach.”
For Reagor, the mental part of recovering from two early injuries was harder than healing and rehabbing, he said. His shoulder and his thumb mended quickly.
“Mentally, it was just like, so many setbacks, you get back, and here comes another setback, and both of those injuries are, like, one-in-a-million,” he said. “How I hurt my shoulder, the way I landed, I’ve never landed that way in my life. And my thumb, I was just making a catch and tore my [ulnar collateral ligament].”
Reagor’s confidence does not seem to have suffered.
“There’s a reason I was drafted Day 1,” he said.