The Philadelphia Eagles’ training camp is underway, and the team’s players are getting back in game-shape. To kick off the season, the team added a few new faces to the roster. The most notable addition to the roster was the trade for quarterback Nick Foles. The trade was a trade that was heavily disputed by the fans and critics. While there were a lot of “Why not?” and “Too soon!”s thrown around, the general consensus was that it was a move that should not have been made.
Philadelphia is back at practice, as the Eagles begin training camp. While the team may be far from the rest of the league, one name raised eyebrows around the training camp facility.
Devante Smith-Pelly is a journeyman running back who has bounced around the NFL for the past five years. He’s also a bit of a journeyman off the field, too. The running back has a history with domestic assault charges. Last year, he was arrested for disorderly conduct following a dispute with one of his ex-girlfriend’s. He received a misdemeanor rap for the incident and was not charged, but the NFL was still in the process of evaluating him for a second assault charge.
It isn’t the start of the Philadelphia Eagles’ season until their No. 1 wide receiver is injured. Unfortunately for Nick Sirianni and the rest of the team, that happened at training camp when standout rookie DeVonta Smith damaged his MCL.
Without Smith, the Eagles’ wide receiver corps may be the most uninspired in the league, so someone will have to step up if Jalen Hurts is to make a leap in his sophomore season. So far in camp, that person has been second-year wide receiver Quez Watkins.
DeVonta Smith’s injury has left a gaping hole in the Eagles’ receiving corps.
Since winning the Super Bowl in 2018, the largest weakness on Philadelphia’s roster has been wide receiver. Even back then, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and Nelson Agholor were far from the team’s best wide receiver trio.
The Eagles addressed the position in the last two NFL drafts, drafting Jalen Reagor in 2020 and Smith in 2021, but the WR room entering the season is as young as any in the league. The anticipated starters (Smith, Reagor, and Greg Ward) have a combined NFL experience of just 34 games. Travis Fulgham, who flashed brilliance last season, has a potential to steal first-team snaps if he can improve his consistency.
Second-year wideouts Watkins and John Hightower expect to get more snaps this year behind the top four. JJ Arcega-Whiteside, the gigantic draft flop who was selected in the second round in 2019, may not even make the 53-man roster.
Smith, like no other Eagles wide receiver, has yet to demonstrate that he deserves to be a starter on a competitive NFL club. Who will be the one to make a difference this season?
So far, all signs point to Watkins.
Quez Watkins is a newcomer at training camp who is causing a stir.
Fans were fascinated by Watkins’ speed and agility when the Eagles selected him in the sixth round of last year’s NFL draft, but they didn’t expect him to contribute much as an unrefined receiver.
Last season, the Southern Miss product caught seven of his 15 targets for 106 yards and a touchdown. For a late-round choice who didn’t see much of the field in 2020, it was a promising debut season.
But don’t be surprised if the fast wideout had a big sophomore season.
Watkins has been the WR room’s breakout star so far in training camp. According to 94WIP’s Eliot Shorr-Parks, he has 13 catches and four touchdowns in team drills after ten workouts. That includes a 50-yard touchdown reception in which he outjumped veteran safety Anthony Harris and neatly high-pointed the ball for the touchdown.
This month, local beat reporters who get to see the squad train every day have gushed about Watkins. NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Dave Zangaro dubbed Watkins the “best overall receiver” in camp this summer. Mike Kaye of NJ.com described him as “sensational” in recent weeks.
Is it conceivable that the Eagles have finally found a wide receiver?
The Eagles rely on Watkins to carry his strong camp into the regular season.
Quez Watkins, a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles, watches from the sidelines during training camp | John Jones/Icon Sportswire
The 2021 season will be critical for Hurts. It’s his first opportunity to show the Eagles why they should continue to build around him in the future. If he fails to impress in his first full season as the starter, the Eagles may start looking for a new quarterback next offseason.
That’s a genuine possibility for Hurts in year two, with a depleted and unproven bunch of weapons surrounding him. Smith should provide him with a reliable target who can get open in any situation, but there’s no guarantee that anyone behind the former Alabama star will be able to assist Hurts in 2021.
Watkins has been doing precisely that during training camp, and he may have to do it again once the regular season begins next month.
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