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Eagles' Bryce Treggs focused only on himself as he battles for roster spot

Bryce Treggs had 7 catches for 91 yards against the Packers, but still is facing an uphill battle to make the Eagles' season-opening roster.

Eagles’ wide receiver Bryce Treggs catches the football against the Green Bay Packers during a preseason game at Lambeau Field.
Eagles’ wide receiver Bryce Treggs catches the football against the Green Bay Packers during a preseason game at Lambeau Field.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Bryce Treggs is a self-described "blinders guy,'' which means the Eagles wide receiver isn't wasting a lot of time this summer comparing himself with his training camp competition or calculating the odds of his making the  season-opening roster.

"I'm just taking it day by day,'' he said. "I'm not paying attention to what other people are doing. I'm just focused on myself and letting the plays come.''

The plays came for him Thursday night in the Eagles' first preseason game. Treggs had a team-high seven catches for 91 yards in a 24-9 loss to the Packers.

Four of those catches resulted in first downs, including a 38-yarder on a nice throw from Matt McGloin late in the second quarter.

Treggs ran past Kevin King, the Packers' second-round rookie corner, as if he were standing still.

"It was nothing fancy,'' he said. "It was just me playing fast and letting the play come to me. It was a good throw by Matt. He recognized that I got behind him and put it up.''

Treggs is going to need more performances like Thursday's, both in the remaining three preseason games and also in training camp, to win a roster spot. And even that might not be enough.

But Friday's surprising trade of slot receiver Jordan Matthews to the Buffalo Bills created an opening that wasn't there a day earlier.

Before the Matthews trade, five wide receiver spots already appeared to be locked up by Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor, rookie fourth-round pick Mack Hollins, and Matthews.

Hollins had four catches for 64 yards against the Packers, including a 38-yard touchdown catch and run in which he broke two tackles.

"He's the guy we thought we were getting [in the draft],'' head coach Doug Pederson said of Hollins after the game. "He started the preseason off right. He showed us something tonight. He played really well.''

Because of the run-catch versatility of some of their running backs, such as Darren Sproles and rookie Donnel Pumphrey, and because they have three tight ends with pass-catching ability, the Eagles may end up keeping only five wide receivers.

With Matthews gone, that opens up that fifth wide receiver job to another candidate – likely Treggs, rookie fifth-round pick Shelton Gibson, or Marcus Johnson. Greg Ward Jr., an undrafted free agent, is another possibility, though the former college quarterback seems more likely to be a practice squad candidate.

Gibson, like Treggs, is fast. Both ran  4.39 in the 40 before the draft. But Gibson has had his ups and downs this spring and summer. He played in an offense at West Virginia that essentially allowed him to freelance. Now he's trying to learn one of the most complicated route trees in the league.

He had just two catches for 12 yards against the Packers. He almost hauled in a long fourth-quarter pass from Dane Evans, but couldn't quite hang on to it and had it taken away by Packers safety Marwin Evans.

"He made an awesome play,'' Gibson said. "He got there the same time I did. I thought I had it, but he wound up with it.''

Johnson, a 2016 undrafted free agent who spent time on the Eagles' practice squad as a rookie, has had an exceptional training camp and was even getting some reps with the first team while Alshon Jeffery was out with a shoulder injury. But he tweaked his hamstring last weekend and was held out Thursday.

"I'm just trying to be a reliable target,'' Treggs said. "Being where the quarterback needs me to be when they need me to be there. I'm working with all three quarterbacks, so I have good chemistry with them all.''

Treggs was claimed off  waivers by the Eagles last September after being cut by San Francisco. He was inactive for the first seven games, but played in the last nine.

In his first NFL game, against the Giants in Week 9, he caught a 58-yard pass from Carson Wentz against Pro Bowl corner Janoris Jenkins. But he had just two more receptions the rest of the season.

Treggs is much more comfortable in Pederson's offense this summer than he was as a rookie.

"[Last season] was a great experience,'' he said. "Understanding what you can and can't do in this league. [Gaining] maturity. I think I'm better in all aspects of my game from last year.''

He is. The problem for him is, with the offseason acquisitions of Jeffery and Smith, and the drafting of Hollins and the apparent improvement of 2015 first-round pick Nelson Agholor, the whole Eagles wide receiver group is better.

"We have Torrey and Alshon; we have veterans in the room who really push you to be great every day,'' Treggs said. "Everybody's making plays in practice every day. That leadership has really helped the whole unit.''

Quarterback Carson Wentz said he has seen a noticeable difference in Treggs.

"He looks like a much more polished receiver. Having an offseason in the offense and working with Coach  Groh was good for all the young guys," Wentz said, referring to new wide receivers coach Mike Groh.

"He looked really good out there tonight. We knew he could roll, he could run. But he's become a lot more polished. It was good for him to have a big night.''

With Jeffery and Johnson both out Thursday, Treggs got an opportunity to get into the game early. He entered on the Eagles' second possession and immediately caught a short pass from McGloin and turned it into an 11-yard gain.

"When you get some balls early, it's easier to get into a rhythm,'' Treggs said. "Anytime you do that, you're going to be settled in for the rest of the game.

"I'm pretty happy [with the way he played]. But I'm not complacent. I still have some nicks and bruises, so I'm not quite 100 percent. It's going to be a scary sight when I get to 100 percent. So I'm looking forward to that.''