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Eagles’ Nelson Agholor to play in his hometown of Tampa for first time as a pro

"It's going to be a great feeling. It's a place that's close to my heart because it's the home stadium, where I'm from."

Nelson Agholor will play in front of a home crowd for the first time as a pro on Sunday.
Nelson Agholor will play in front of a home crowd for the first time as a pro on Sunday.Read moreMICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer

Nelson Agholor has played 45 regular-season games, three postseason games and nine preseason games, but he has not yet played an NFL game in his hometown. So on Sunday, when the Eagles wide receiver runs out of the tunnel of Tampa's Raymond James Stadium, there will be a significance atypical of a Week 2 game.

"It's going to be a great feeling," Agholor said. "It's a place that's close to my heart because it's the home stadium, where I'm from."

It won't be the first time for Agholor to be on that field, though. He played there in youth football when he was 11 and 12. Agholor said his team won its Super Bowl two decades before he caught a career-high nine receptions in the actual Super Bowl.

Agholor, 25, moved with his family to the United States from Nigeria when he was 5. He lived briefly in New York before his family settled in Tampa. His father, Felix, was a professional soccer player in Nigeria and worked many jobs in the United States, and was a janitor at the University of South Florida when Agholor was drafted in 2015. His mother, Caroline, worked at a nursing home before she retired. Agholor grew up with his parents and four siblings in a three-bedroom apartment, sharing a bedroom with his two brothers.

He used football as a way to assimilate to his new neighborhood, starting with street football before joining his youth football team and then starring at Berkeley Prep before going to college at Southern California. He said Thursday that it was initially a culture shock coming to the United States, but the community accepted him. Football helped break the culture barrier.

He'll be the Eagles' top receiver on Sunday. With Alshon Jeffery out of the lineup, the Eagles are counting on Agholor to help lead the passing game. He had eight catches for 33 yards in the season opener. The yardage should increase against a defense that allowed 432 passing yards last week and has injuries plaguing its secondary.

Agholor's parents will be in the stadium on Sunday. So will his high school football coach, Dominick Ciao, with whom he speaks on a daily basis. Even his favorite player as a kid, former Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber, will be in attendance as part of the Fox broadcast team.

There might be a 12-year-old watching at home admiring Agholor the way he once did Barber. Maybe they saw Agholor star in the Super Bowl, just as Agholor once watched Barber. Maybe they attended the youth football camp Agholor camp hosts in his hometown in the summer. And maybe they dream that one day, they can be like Agholor, playing the beneath the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium.

"I think for the kids that are there, I just want them to see me have fun," Agholor said. "A lot of kids in Tampa love the game of football. I hope they have the chance to tune in. And if the kid has been at my camp, I hope he gets to see me have fun with my guys."

>> READ MORE: Nelson Agholor was the Eagles' best receiver in a big game, which is still kind of crazy, right? | Mike Sielski

Extra points

Eagles running back Darren Sproles (hamstring) and wide receiver Shelton Gibson (knee) both missed practice on Thursday. If they miss Sunday's game, the Eagles will be without one of their most versatile offensive threats and their top kick and punt returners. Corey Clement would take on a bigger offensive workload and would also return kicks. "I try to pride myself on not being just a single-dimensional player out there," Clement said. "I try to get my fit in everything I possibly can. Not saying I'm a selfish person, but I can contribute in many ways rather than just running back." … Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson returned to practice on a limited basis with a concussion/shoulder injury. Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was limited with a knee injury. Cornerback Brent Grimes (groin) and defensive tackle Vita Vea (calf) did not participate in practice.