J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Mack Hollins eager for opportunity to step up

Ed Kracz

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is ready.

“That’s what I dream about, that’s why I’m here is to help this team whether I get a lot of plays or no plays,” said the Eagles receiver.

Mack Hollins is ready, too.

“Whatever coach needs me to do,” said the Eagles receiver. “I played a lot of different roles, a lot of positons on this team, I’ll continue to do that if it helps us win, whether that’s taking the top off or blocking or staying in and playing (special) teams.”

Arcega-Whiteside and Hollins don’t have much choice to be ready, because it is highly unlikely that DeSean Jackson or Alshon Jeffery will be available when the Eagles host the Detroit Lions on Sunday at 1 p.m.

VIDEO: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside talks about his play last week and looks forward to Sunday

The individual receivers’ drills were a lonely place to be at Thursday’s practice, with no Jackson (abdomen) or Jeffery (calf) able to participate.

Nelson Agholor joined Arcega-Whiteside and Hollins as well as practice squad pass catchers Marcus Green and Greg Ward, Jr., in the drills.

As of now, the Eagles will go to battle with just three wideouts. A move to promote either Green or Ward could happen, so, too, could the signing of someone like free agent Jordan Matthews or Mike Wallace, but the Eagles would then have to release a player or put somebody on Injured Reserve to make room for one of them.

Either way, the Eagles will likely rely heavily on Agholor and tight end Zach Ertz in the passing game, but Arcega-Whiteside and Hollins will play roles, too. Even running back Darren Sproles may get some work in the slot, since he was the emergency receiver against Atlanta had something happen to Agholor, Arcega-Whiteside or Hollins.

“Any time my number is called, I try to dial in to take advantage of those opportunities,” said Agholor. “I embrace that type of opportunity.”

Agholor is also ready, ready to see what Arcega-Whiteside and Hollins can do with the opportunity in front of them.

“They’re dynamic players,” said Agholor. “J.J. was drafted here for a reason. He has a great catch radius, big body. Mack is very versatile. He plays inside, he plays outside, he also has really good speed.

“J.J. played a lot football last game. I think that that’s good, he put some stuff on tape. He had some wins out there even without the ball coming his way and I think that’s something he can be confident about.”

Arcega-Whiteside got his first NFL catch out of the way in Atlanta, though it was just for four yards. But he seemed to struggle with some of the patterns he was asked to run, but that could be because he didn’t get man reps during the week.

That’s not the case this week.

“We (him and Hollins) stepped in and did what we could,” said JJAW. “Obviously those are three special players (to lose in Jackson, Jeffery and Dallas Goedert), but that’s why we’re here, too, because we can ball. We’ll go out this week, get the chemistry rolling and see what we can do.”

Hollins had five catches for 50 yards, including two third-down receptions that became first downs, as the Eagles converted 50 percent of their third downs in Atlanta, a week after converting 64 percent of them against Washington.

“I don’t think it built my confidence, my confidence is where it’s always been,” said Hollins. “We prepare for this. You come to this level to prepare. You don’t prepare to be sitting on the bench. You prepare to be a starter whether you’re playing or not, and that’s what coach (offensive coordinator Mike) Groh and (receivers) coach (Carson) Walch and (head) coach (Doug) Pederson have always told us and that’s what we continue to do.”

So they are ready, just how ready won’t be known until late Sunday afternoon.

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