The Eagles will face the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday evening in their second preseason game, and I for one am really excited because this trip was SO MUCH FUN last October. I mean, LONDON! Westminster Abbey. The Tower Bridge. Parliament. Big Ben. I can hardly wait to board the ... what’s that? You mean, the Eagles have to play the Jaguars in JACKSONVILLE this time??!!
Well, darn. Excuse me a second. I have to change some travel arrangements.
— Les Bowen (email@example.com)
Mack Hollins last played in a football game on Feb. 4, 2018. You might remember it.
After Super Bowl LII, Hollins had surgery to fix a groin muscle problem. A source close to the situation has said that often, players with Hollins’ injury get both sides of the pelvic area reinforced, so there won’t be a disparity, but Hollins got just one side fixed, and he tore the other in the 2018 training camp. Hollins, a 6-foot-4, 221-pound wide receiver, missed the entire season, and wasn’t able to do much this spring, either.
Hollins was something of a media focus early in training camp — he jokingly clarified on social media that he was indeed still alive — but before long he was sitting out of practice again with a hip problem. This week, Hollins has been practicing full speed and it seems he might play Thursday night at Jacksonville, though next week against Baltimore might be more likely.
Chris McPherson from philadelphiaeagles.com caught up with Hollins after practice Monday, and Hollins unsurprisingly told him, “I’m a ways behind. ... To me, every day is me climbing back up that mountain.”
Coming off his rookie Super Bowl season, Hollins was viewed as a solid special-teams presence, expected to expand his role in the offense (16 catches, 226 yards in a quarter of the offensive snaps). Now, his role on the roster is unclear.
Barring serious injury or a trade, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, Alshon Jeffery, and second-round rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside are going to take four receiving spots. Presumably, as a 2017 fourth-round pick, Hollins has an edge on a group of guys the Eagles didn’t draft for the fifth spot, but until he gets into a preseason game and looks like himself, that edge is pretty thin.
Undrafted rookie Marken Michel caught a 75-yard touchdown pass in the preseason opener, Greg Ward is a perennial hopeful in his third Eagles camp, and Charles Johnson has four NFL seasons behind him, in Cleveland and Minnesota. Six wideouts on the 53? That’s a possibility, depending on how other positions shape up.
Hollins said he has learned a lot from the veterans in the receiving group, and even from Arcega-Whiteside, who has “that rookie tenacity. It helps you push, push, push.”
Hollins wore No. 10 in the Super Bowl, but he said he was fine giving that jersey back to Jackson, who wore it from 2008-13. Hollins is now No. 16.
“DeSean obviously has a reason to rock that number,” Hollins said. “It’s a number to me. It don’t really matter.”
Hollins said he expects to play soon, “if not this one, the next one for sure.”
That is a good question, Joshua. A lot depends on who’s healthy as we get closer to Sept. 8 and the opener.
If Nigel Bradham isn’t, well, linebacker might suddenly become important, and not in a good way. Irrespective of health, I think I might be most concerned about what the edge rush is going to look like. Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham really have to be top-notch, Vinny Curry has to be pretty good, and Josh Sweat or Shareef Miller has to be at least OK for Jim Schwartz’s defense to work.