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Catching up with Trio of Young Pass-Catchers

How are the Eagles' DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor, and Quez Watkins doing through seven games? Here's a look with Nick Sirianni answering that question
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PHILADELPHIA – DeVonta Smith’s first catch in the NFL was a touchdown. He hasn’t scored another one since Week 1, and that was on Sept. 12.

Quez Watkins, the owner of roadrunner speed, hasn’t caught a single TD, though he had a 91-yard reception in Week 2.

Believe it or not, Jalen Reagor leads the receivers in touchdowns with two despite bringing up the rear in receiving yards among the three Eagles receivers.

“I’ve seen them grow and they continue to make plays,” said head coach Nick Sirianni on Friday as the Eagles prepare to head to Detroit to play the Lions on Sunday (1 p.m./FOX).

“I know there is that philosophy that there is only one football and there are three guys to get the ball to in one room, but we're doing everything we can do to get them the football. We have other good playmakers as well.”

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It’s going to be awfully tempting for Sirianni to look at what the Lions will run out there at cornerback and construct a pass-heavy game plan. Detroit lost its two starting corners to injury during the season and is down to late-round picks and undrafted players.

Of course, that’s the kind of offense Sirianni has used most of the season, though last week in Las Vegas, there seemed to be more of a concerted effort to run the ball, with quarterback Jalen Hurts lining up under center more often and Miles Sanders carrying the ball five times for 25 yards on the Eagles’ first drive of the game that went for a touchdown.

The Eagles actually had 32 rushes vs. 34 pass attempts. Good balance, but not good enough to secure a win.

So how much will it matter that Miles Sanders won’t play, and was put on Injured Reserve on Friday?

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This feels like another throw-the-ball game and that brings the Eagles’ young trio of receivers back into the spotlight.

Where do they stand after seven games?

Reagor has been targeted just five times in the last two games despite showing productivity when the ball comes his way. He had six catches on six targets in the opener versus the Falcons then five catches on eight targets two weeks later against the Cowboys.

The second-year receiver couldn’t come up with an answer when asked why his targets have fallen off.

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“That’s not a question that I can answer, but I’m doing my job to the best of my ability,” he said. “It’s what I gotta keep doing every week. When the opportunities come, just make them when they come my way.”

Reagor caught a late touchdown pass in Las Vegas, rising above three defenders to haul in a pass around the 17 then race into the end zone. It was his first target of the game, and it didn’t come until the final four minutes.

“I’m still out there,” he said. “When the ball came at the end of the game, you have to (be engaged) because you never know. You don’t want to be sulking because the time they do throw it, you gotta make a play. It’s not hard to do.”

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The overall development of the trio of pass-catchers has been average at best.

It could be better and perhaps some of that is on quarterback Jalen Hurts, though Smith didn’t help his cause with three drops against the Raiders last week.

Still, the numbers are decent through seven games and look like this:

Smith: 32 catches, 406 yards on 53 targets.

Reagor: 19 catches, 165 yards on 30 targets.

Watkins: 18 catches for 348 (19.3 yards per catch) on 30 targets.

That’s a total of 69 receptions for 919 with three touchdowns for the receivers.

“You have three guys that you're like, ‘We got to try to game plan for and get them the football,’ because sometimes in a room you're like, ‘Well, we're going to game plan for this guy and the other guys are going to get their touches as they come,’” said Sirianni. “We want to get these guys touches because they're all explosive playmakers. You don't do that, and you don’t think that way as a coach unless they give you a reason to do that.

“Obviously the talent of these three guys have given us the reason to want to give them the football, but also their development.”

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Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.