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Up and Down for Jalen Reagor vs. Jets

After two high-leverage drops against the Giants, the WR played a lot against the Jets as a role player but had a mental lapse in the kickoff-return game

PHILADELPHIA - Another week, another issue with the embattled Jalen Reagor, this time a flub in the return game.

Seven days after two high-leverage Reagor drops cost the Eagles a game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, the embattled 2020 first-round pick was replaced as the team's kick returner by Boston Scott after showing some indecision in the second quarter during the 33-18 win over the New York Jets.

The return netted the Eagles only five yards and forced the Eagles' offense to start at its 6-yard line.

"It was one of those situations where we, obviously, have our rules for the returners of where to place their heels at," special teams coordinator Michael Clay said on Tuesday. "I think he kind of got lost where he was at when he first ran out there. Then as we looked at it again, he didn't think he was that far back."

The fact that Gardner Minshew and Co. were cooking and able to pick up Reagor, putting together an eight-play, 94-yard drive capped by an 18-yard Kenny Gainwell touchdown run didn't erase the taste of the backed-up starting point when it came to Clay, though.

The next time the Jets kicked off, Scott was back deep to return.

Reagor, though, remained the punt returner and had a 20-yard return to help set up one of the Egles' field goals. the run, though, came after he muffed the catch then scooped up the ball.

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"It was one of those things we can learn from – everyone can learn from," Clay said of the botched kickoff return "Not just [Reagor], also all the returners right there. It's one of those mistakes that we can't have because we put the offense in a terrible situation. Luckily, they bailed us out with that big scoring drive right there.

"But it was one of those little mental lapses that, myself, I could be better at and just keep reminding him that, even if there's a TV time-out, just to give him a hand signal just to back up right there. For the most part, it was a collective ‘FUBAR’ from the special teams standpoint there."

The move to Scott, more of a veteran, savvy presence who doesn't offer the same explosiveness of Reagor, was about allowing the maligned receiver time to breathe, but also because Reagor had a larger role in the offense in the second half when Nick Sirianni used more 13 personnel (three tight ends) where only one WR was on the field.

Jalen Re

Jalen Re

"Coming out at the half, Jalen [was] playing a lot of offense right there and trying to take something off his plate there for the time being," Clay said. "We had enough people to jump in.

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"Obviously, Boston, who's done it before, he was willing and able to get in right there and just take something off his plate to be ready for offense and punt return."

Sirianni felt Reagor's size and speed were a better combination for the role in 13-personnel looks than the slight DeVonta Smith or Quez Watkins.

Offensive coordinator Shane Steichen explained the use of the heavy 13-personnel looks Tuesday.

"He's got really good speed," he said of Reagor when asked why Reagor was in more than the other WRs in that package. "He's got really good speed, so a lot of that stuff with him in there. Obviously, we ran it pretty good there in those situations, but he's got speed to take the top off. If we ever want to take shots in those personnel groups, he has the speed to do it."

As for Reagor on kickoff returns, Clay said that the brief move away from him on Sunday isn't necessarily permanent moving forward.

"Probably not, I wouldn't say permanent," Clay said.

"There are other factors. There are the other 10 guys right there," the STC said. "So, I wouldn't say anything like [Regaor's being benched as the KR]. We're obviously going to try to put our team in the best situation possible. We've got enough time to go through it and talk about it, but I wouldn't say any of that."

It should be noted that Clay offered similar thoughts when it came to Watkins when he was the KR and Reagor seized the job after Watkins was banged-up.

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Clay was also asked about the mental aspect of Regaor's struggles.

"In terms of just speaking through special teams, I don't see it," Clay said when asked about Reagor's confidence waning. "He comes in every week ready to go. He was involved in the game plan in terms of what he likes and what we try to give him and everything. So, I don't think anything, in terms of off the field or previous weeks, really creep in. He comes in, works hard every day, tries to do right with everyone."

I-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 jmcmullen44@gmail.com 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.