FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - One thing is certain, the Eagles’ presumptive receivers can run.
If everything holds true to form, Philadelphia’s starting wideouts when they trot out 11 personnel in Atlanta on Sept. 12 figure to be first-round pick DeVonta Smith and two second-year players: 2020 first-rounder Jalen Reagor and the fastest of the bunch, the emerging Quez Watkins.
The mini-track team has seemingly outlasted the competition in the form of Greg Ward, Travis Fulgham, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and John Hightower.
Second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts is growing along with the trio and all four players are regarded as potential playmakers.
That adjective in front of playmakers needs to change from potential or uncertain to proven in short order, however.
It starts with Hurts, of course, as the leader of the offense.
“J-Hurts. That’s the captain. He’s gonna lead us for sure,” Reagor said of his QB after an impressive joint practice with the Jets on Tuesday. “I feel he has a big chip on his shoulders, and the way he talks about it, he’s very intentional. Just on the bus ride over here, he’s like, ‘I’m in that mode.’ I really think he’s going to have a huge year and shock a lot of people.”
With Smith, the lone concern seems to be his ability to hold up to the NFL rigors at just 166 pounds, a legitimate worry after the reigning Heisman Trophy winner got banged-up twice in his first 16 practices.
For Reagor, the goal is to be more consistent when it comes to route-running while Watkins, as a former sixth-round pick, needs to overcome pedigree concerns as well as the thought he’s a one-trick pony with 4.35 speed.
“All three [are] big-time playmakers,” Hurts said. “Fast, can catch the ball well, and they’re taking steps every day. They’re growing, and learning, like myself. It’s good to see. I’m happy to be a part of it with them. I’m excited for them all.”
All were showcased Tuesday against the NYJ defense.
Smith’s short-area quickness and crispness when coming out of breaks are rare for a rookie. Reagor flashed in the red zone and Watkins had the play of the day, rising up to catch a Hurts pass downfield on a play he was shaken up on before quickly returning.
“I feel like we gotta keep growing as a whole, keep growing as a unit, and keep building off each other,” said Reagor.
From Hurts’ perspective, he’s already noticed how much stress the speed Nick Sirianni can put on the field impacts the defense.
“It definitely puts a lot of stress on the defense," Hurts said. "… I know they’re great players. I’m happy to have them.
“And I’m going to feed them.”
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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.