Travis Fulgham said he hasn’t seen his increased visibility translate into defenses keying on him much, four games into Fulgham’s emergence as the Eagles' most prolific pass receiver.
“I may have been doubled a couple times during the Giants game, but that’s pretty much it,” Fulgham said Friday, as the Eagles wrapped up preparations for Sunday night’s matchup with the visiting Dallas Cowboys. “Nothing too crazy, no corners following me, or anything like that.”
The return of first-round rookie Jalen Reagor to the lineup Sunday night ought to keep Fulgham from becoming a big defensive focus, despite Fulgham’s 23 catches for 357 yards (15.5 yards per catch) and three touchdowns in those four games since he came up from the practice squad.
Reagor pretty much replaces DeSean Jackson, whose return from a hamstring injury lasted only one game, Jackson going down with a broken ankle against the Giants on a brutal hit while trying to return a punt for the first time since 2018. So roles for Fulgham and slot receiver Greg Ward shouldn’t change.
Fulgham said they all work on timing every practice, so rub routes and such shouldn’t be affected by Reagor’s return from the thumb injury he suffered Week 2 against the Rams.
“If Jalen’s out there, anybody else is out there, we’ll execute it perfectly,” he said. “I feel like we have a great young group. We grind every day. We pick each other’s brains, improve from each other … we definitely want to do big things.”
This tied into a theme that sixth-round rookie wideout John Hightower brought up earlier in the week, members of the young group helping one another. Right now Ward, at 25, is the oldest member of the corps that will take the field against Dallas. (Jackson and Alshon Jeffery remain sidelined, Jeffery with a calf strain suffered while he was trying to come back from foot surgery last December.)
“Everybody helps everybody, regardless of what it is, big or small,” Hightower said. “I feel like I can go to anyone in the receivers room and talk to them about anything, and I feel like they can come to me, whatever they’re going through. … So it’s just a good bond.”
With Hightower (nine catches, 166 yards, 18.4 yards per catch) added to the main group of Reagor, Ward, and Fulgham, the Eagles are free to try more four-wide-receiver sets, something that first showed up against the Giants.
“I do like it,” Doug Pederson said Friday. “If you have the four guys, I think it’s a great changeup, right?” Then Pederson noted that sometimes you need someone in the backfield to pick up a blitz, but still, four wideouts is “a way to go tempo, a way to go fast, and I think we’re getting closer to being able to do that a little bit more.”
Fulgham was drafted in the sixth round last year by Detroit, out of Old Dominon. He played in three games at the end of the season as a rookie, 63 offensive snaps, no catches. Detroit waived him early in training camp this year, Green Bay picked him up, waived him nine days later.
This time the Eagles grabbed him, but they didn’t think to actually use him until the Jackson and Reagor injuries left them desperate, Oct. 4 against the 49ers. Sometimes necessity is the mother of receptions, or something.
Fulgham, 6-foot-2, 215, plays bigger than his size when fending off a defensive back for a contested catch. His 36½-inch vertical leap helps there. Fulgham lasted until 184th overall in the 2019 draft at least partly because of his 4.58 40 speed, which did not portend an ability to separate at the NFL level. Yet so far, he makes catches anyway.
Reagor is a different type of receiver, one whose 4.47 40 at the NFL scouting combine was considered a disappointment, though he eventually recorded a 4.28 at TCU’s pro day, and was drafted 21st overall last spring.
Fulgham was asked what attribute of Reagor’s he wouldn’t mind borrowing.
“I mean, I wish I had his speed, I can’t lie,” Fulgham said.
Eagles wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead said recently that he thought those trips through Detroit and Green Bay helped Fulgham, showed him the broad strokes of West Coast-based offenses, so that he hit the ground running here.
“That allowed a little bit of room for him to step in quicker. He’s a guy who’s made plays, and the quarterbacks trust him,” Moorehead said. “When you throw the ball up to a guy, and he’s going to go up and fight for it every single time, and he’s going to go and run routes and do it crisp … he did that quickly.”