TERRELL WATSON was about 3 years old, he said, when his parents told him the truth: They were actually his grandparents. His mother, their then-15-year-old estranged daughter, had left him on their front porch in a basket, with some clothes, a few weeks after he was born.
His two younger siblings also were grandchildren of Billy and Janice Watson, of Oxnard, Calif.
That wasn't the hardest thing about Watson's childhood, though. Watson - a running back signed last week to the Eagles' practice squad who seems likely to join the roster for this week's season finale against Dallas - struggled mightily with a learning disability and a speech impediment. He was shunted into special-education classes, though he eventually proved, with the help of determined high school teachers, that he didn't belong there. He now has a sociology degree from Azusa Pacific.
"I'm good at memorizing stuff - I'm a very visual learner," Watson said. "And (in high school and at Azusa) I had teachers who would take time and help me with that . . . There came a time (before that) when I asked God to take away my football ability and let me be able to read."
Speech therapy helped as well.
"I'm trying not to talk with a lisp right now - I'm doing pretty good, right?" Watson said.
Watson's story has been told a few times since he made the Bengals' practice squad as an undrafted rookie in 2015. After the season, when Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson became the Browns' head coach, he took Watson (6-1, 242) with him. Cleveland relegated him to its practice squad just before the season, then released him Oct. 26. The Broncos picked him up the next week for their practice squad, where he stayed until Dec. 14, when Denver released him. Six days later, the Eagles brought him aboard.
"I like to think (the life story) is kind of interesting," Watson said. "If I wasn't with my grandparents - I can't picture my life any other way."
He said he has an "off and on" relationship with his mother, whom he said he met when he was "14 or 15." He said he feels his grandparents are his real parents.
"When my birth dad died when I was 12, my (grandmother) sat us down and was like, 'Hey, I want to let you know that your dad died.' I'm like, 'My dad is sitting right here.' My grandparents have always been my mom and dad."
Now that season-ending injuries have claimed Ryan Mathews, Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner, the Eagles go into their final game with Darren Sproles and undrafted rookie Byron Marshall, who is two weeks removed from the practice squad, as their running backs. Doug Pederson said adding Watson to the roster before Sunday to fill the vacancy created when Mathews went on IR is a "no-brainer," but it hasn't happened yet.
Watson said the Eagles' offense is a lot like Cleveland's. "I think I'm very comfortable in the offense," he said. "The running back coach, Duce (Staley) has done a great job . . . Pass protection, everything. I feel good about it."
The only other possibility for a third running back Sunday is if jack-of-all-trades Trey Burton gets some snaps there. Burton said Wednesday he isn't practicing at running back this week.
After creating a talk-radio hubbub over his contention that he knows DeSean Jackson will return to the Eagles in free agency this coming offseason, Brandon Graham did not want to address the subject any further Wednesday. "That's not my place. I said a lot . . . I'm here to play football . . . Just focus on the Cowboys right now. That's not like me (to speak out of turn). That was a rookie mistake by me . . . I've said enough about DeSean. Everybody knows, everybody loves him. That's it," Graham said . . .
Carson Wentz met Eagles fan and two-time AL MVP Mike Trout through tight end Zach Ertz, who got to know Trout after signing a jersey for Trout's girlfriend last year, Ertz said. Wentz and Trout hunted ducks and geese last weekend near Millville, N.J., where Trout grew up. Trout sent each Eagles player a pair of Nikes for Christmas in white, silver and midnight green . . . Jordan Matthews (ankle) didn't practice Wednesday but is expected to play in the finale, Doug Pederson said.