Philadelphia Eagles fans might want to temper their expectations for Jalen Reagor for a bit. The Eagles still plan to have Reagor play a major role in their offense, but head coach Doug Pederson hinted the 2020 first-round pick could be starting the season as an understudy.
To DeSean Jackson.
“He’s going to come in and he’s going to learn one position and he is going to learn from DeSean Jackson, and learn everything he can,” Pederson said in a conference call Tuesday. “Obviously the playbook is extensive and we just have to see what he’s taken from the offseason to training camp, and then once we see his potential and his growth, then we can use him in multiple spots.
“But one of the things that all of our receivers really have the capability of doing is moving inside, whether they are an outside guy going inside or an inside guy going outside. We’ll keep him at one position to start and we’ll grow from there.”
Jackson plays the deep-ball receiver role on the Eagles, even though the wide receiver positions are typically interchangeable. The Eagles like to have Jackson lined up as the “Z” receiver, or the one that lines up off the line of scrimmage. Reagor was presumably the favorite to play the slot if the Eagles intended to have him, Jackson, and Alshon Jeffery in “11 personnel.”
Jeffery is recovering from a Lisfranc injury and his status for Week 1 is up in the air. The Eagles still plan to have him play an important role in the offense in 2020, despite offseason questions regarding his future.
“Alshon has done extremely well this offseason with his rehab,” Pederson said. “The dialogue that he’s had in the receiver room, being able to converse with some of the young players that we have on our roster and just getting themselves back healthy and obviously there’s no timetable for him right now. I just want him to focus on his rehab and get strong, but the second part of your question is, he’s a big part of our offense, and we do plan to have him in the offense at some point.
“But if there’s a couple games there where he’s not ready, then we’re not going to put him out there and just wait for him to get healthy. He is a big part of the process moving forward, and he’s a great leader, and he’s going to be able to help the young players come along.”
While the Eagles have their starting spots set for Jeffery and Jackson, Reagor’s development will be key for the start of the season. Having him focus on one position should be beneficial in the early going, especially since Philadelphia cross-trained J.J. Arcega-Whiteside at all three wide receiver positions last season — basically admitting that was a mistake for their high draft pick in 2019. Arcega-Whiteside struggled in his rookie campaign, catching just 10 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown in five starts.
Reagor couldn’t have anyone better to tutor him than Jackson, one of the best deep ball receivers in NFL history. Jackson has 24 touchdown catches of 60-plus yards in his career, the most in in NFL history and his 31 50-plus yard touchdown catches are only second behind Jerry Rice (36).
The Eagles seem to know how to get the most out of Reagor in Year One. Having him shadow Jackson could pay huge dividends as the season goes on.