What to expect from the Eagles’ new running back | Early Birds
Jason Huntley is a short, speedy back who spent training camp with the Detroit Lions after they drafted him in the fifth round in April.
Good morning, Eagles fans. I would like to personally welcome you to Week 1, in case you hadn’t realized that it’s finally here. Hopefully, you enjoyed your long weekend. The Eagles had a light workout on Monday and will take Tuesday off before starting the practice week in earnest on Wednesday. Carson Wentz is back at practice after missing last week with a groin injury he characterized as “tightness.” According to Dan Orlovsky, the volume of dropbacks that quarterbacks take in training camp makes that a pretty common issue.
The Eagles’ roster is nearly set for the opener this Sunday against Washington. They still have one roster spot available and one spot on the practice squad. They could use the roster spot on free-agent tackle Cordy Glenn, who was recently brought in for a workout. Even with Jason Peters set to return to left tackle, adding a more proven backup at the position could pay off when the 38-year-old Peters needs a few plays, or games, off.
If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends, it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @EJSmith94.
— EJ Smith (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Introducing Jason Huntley
The Eagles claimed running back Jason Huntley off the waiver wire on Sunday, adding a fourth running back to the 53-man roster.
Huntley is a short, speedy running back who spent training camp with the Detroit Lions after they drafted him with a fifth-round pick in April. He was a kickoff returner at New Mexico State and ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. As a senior, Huntley ran for 1,090 yards and nine touchdowns to go with three receiving scores. He returned kickoffs in each of his four seasons and scored five touchdowns in his career, including three in his junior season.
Huntley’s college production piqued the Eagles’ interest before the draft, according to coach Doug Pederson.
“He was a guy, a player that we had actually targeted back in the draft and through the draft process,” Pederson said. “He was on our draft board with many guys but obviously he caught our eye back then when we were evaluating running backs.”
So what can the Eagles expect from Huntley? It’s easy to see him make an early case for the kickoff-returner spot, especially with Jalen Reagor expected to miss a week or two with a shoulder injury and Miles Sanders “day-to-day” with his own undisclosed injury.
Most of the training camp return reps went to Reagor, Quez Watkins, Adrian Killins, and Greg Ward. Reagor is hurt, Watkins is also hurt and on injured reserve, and Killins is on the practice squad. Ward is still an option, but he’s been more of a punt returner than a kickoff specialist, and he’s expected to have a starting role in the offense. Huntley, especially considering he might not be caught up enough on the Eagles’ playbook to contribute on offense right away, could be a Week 1 return option.
Once he’s up to speed on the plays, he might find a place in the offense as an undersized, shifty runner. At 5-foot-8, 190 pounds, he has a frame similar to Boston Scott, but their skill sets may differ. Scott is more than 10 pounds heavier than Huntley even though he’s 2 inches shorter. Scott is small, but he still has the ability to use his strength to his advantage over his quickness. Huntley has a bit more shiftiness and less oomph.
Among Sanders, Scott, Corey Clement, and Huntley, the Eagles might not have a traditional short-yardage back, but Pederson is still optimistic about the selection of players.
“He’s joining a really talented room with the three guys [on the roster] plus the practice-squad players,” Pederson said. “It’s a good group and a group that can be kind of interchangeable throughout the week. Excited to get him in. He’s obviously got to pick up our playbook and get himself prepared and ready, and just look forward to the week ahead.”
What you need to know about the Eagles
You may have seen this coming, but Jason Peters has officially offered to switch from right guard to left tackle in response to the Andre Dillard injury. Les Bowen has the story here.
The Eagles offense had a glaring lack of explosive plays last season once DeSean Jackson went out. As Paul Domowitch explains, that big-play potential is back for the start of the new season.
Carson Wentz was back at practice Monday, and Cre’Von LeBlanc rejoined the team less than 24 hours after he was released. Read about that and the rest of Monday’s notes here.
It’s time to study up on the Washington Football Team, and Marc Narducci has you covered, previewing the season from the enemy’s perspective.
From the mailbag
Who will be the Eagles DROY? — from Dutch Smith, (@DB_Stooper) on Twitter.
Good question, Dutch. If that is your real name. There are three main candidates, Davion Taylor, Shaun Bradley, and Casey Toohill. My money would be on Bradley, based on training-camp performance. He was getting some second-team reps on defense, while Taylor was stuck with the threes. I don’t think it’s an indictment of Taylor, I just think it’s going to take him a little more time to learn how to leverage the athleticism that made him a third-round pick at this level.
Bradley will almost certainly get a chance to be a special-teams contributor right away. He got plenty of reps with the ones during special-teams drills. I think there’s a real chance he plays this season, especially considering the circumstances with the pandemic. The Eagles really need one of either Taylor or Bradley to pan out if their linebacking corps is going to develop into a more respectable group, and Bradley’s been the better of the two early on. Toohill has an outside shot at making a splash, but it would require him to beat out several players with more experience in the league. I think he’s another guy who will need this season to develop.