It is the definition of crunch-time right now for prospective NFL players all around the nation as every team must carve their roster down to just 53 athletes by week’s end.
And when it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles’ wide receiving core, it will certainly be a toss-up between a couple of youngsters with curiously noticeable potential.
When the 2013 off-season began, the Birds looked to be in great shape at wide-out until a duo of devastating, season-ending ACL tears (WR Jeremy Maclin and newly-acquired WR Arrelious Benn) and a humiliating ethical mishap (WR Riley Cooper) completely derailed the unit.
While the saga around Cooper’s use of a thoughtless, horribly hurtful racial slur has dissipated greatly, the losses of Maclin and Benn (prospective 2nd and 3rd WRs) will be felt all season long.
At this point it looks like Cooper will be starting across the field from Eagles clear-cut, number-one WR DeSean Jackson, while the number three spot will likely be platooned by veteran WR Jason Avant and second-year WR Damaris Johnson. I also expect rookie WR Ifeanyi Momah, a 6′ 7″ skyscraper, to make an immediate impact in the red-zone and on 3rd down, multiple receiver looks.
Eagles brand new head coach Chip Kelly also decided to acquire WR Jeff Maehl, who he coached at the University of Oregon, from the Houston Texans. It is completely unknown how large a role Maehl will play, but you can bet that Kelly didn’t trade for him just to cut him before the season.
This leaves only three players fighting tooth and nail to make the Birds’ final script; third-year WR Greg Salas and rookie WRs Russell Shepard and Will Murphy.
I only see Kelly keeping one of the three on the final roster, if any, and Shepard is that guy. Salas has shown zero progression in his short, highly disappointing NFL career and Shepard is just much more versatile and athletic than both Murphy and Salas.
So there we are. Jackson, Cooper, Avant, Johnson, Momah, Maehl and possibly Shepard will be the Eagles’ funky bunch at WR for 2013.