DeVonta Smith expected to make NFL debut vs. Patriots


Now you really have a good reason to watch the Eagles-Patriots preseason game Thursday night.

DeVonta Smith is playing.

Smith, who returned from a knee injury this week, is expected to make his NFL debut at the Linc Thursday night, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark reported.

Smith will play “if all goes (as) expected,” Clark tweeted Thursday afternoon.

Smith, the Eagles’ vaunted rookie first-round pick, suffered a sprained knee at practice on July 31, the fourth day of training camp. 

He returned for individual drills on Monday and then participated in limited team drills on Tuesday after missing eight full practices, three walkthroughs and the preseason opener against the Steelers last Thursday.

Smith said Tuesday he felt it was important for him to play in the preseason.

“Most definitely,” he said. “You need every rep you can get, so every rep I can get I’m going to take. You can never take too many reps.”

After Thursday, the Eagles only have one more preseason game, a week from Friday against the Jets at the Meadowlands. The regular-season opener is Sept. 12 in Atlanta.

Smith said Tuesday he wasn’t quite 100 percent but was “getting there.”

The Eagles are counting on Smith to deliver star power to Nick Sirianni’s offense and give Jalen Hurts the type of big-time outside threat the franchise hasn't had since Jeremy Maclin in 2014.

The Eagles have drafted 14 wide receivers in the first three rounds over the last 30 years and only two of them — DeSean Jackson and Maclin — have ever had a 1,000-yard season.

Smith caught 117 passes for 1,856 yards and 23 touchdowns for Alabama last year. The last BCS player to reach those benchmarks in a season was Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech in 2007.

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