After final cuts, Nick Sirianni looked out at his roster for the first time as a first-year head coach and delivered an important message to his players about understanding and embracing their roles.
Some guys are stars. Some guys are starters. Some guys are backups.
But you all have to do your part.
No two players have embodied the spirit of that message quite like Boston Scott and Greg Ward. Two guys who came from the practice squad, earned big roles under the last coaching staff and were then relegated to the bottom of the depth chart again this season.
“I think it takes selflessness,” Jalen Hurts said this week. “As a football team, we’ve connected so much. We’ve connected so much, we’ve come together so much. We’ve grown together and we spend a lot of time with one another. I think it’s shown throughout the course of the season.
“And to have every unit believing and having that confidence in one another, it’s important. You get guys that have different roles in different situations but ultimately you gotta be out of yourself and into the team. I think we’ve definitely done a good job of doing that this year.”
In recent weeks, when Scott and Ward have gotten their opportunities, they’ve made the most of them.
Scott has taken advantage of his extra reps with injuries to Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard. And Ward has just six catches this year but half of them have been touchdowns and he made a huge play on 3rd-and-14 in Washington.
It should come as no surprise that the only people happier than Scott and Ward when they make plays are their teammates, who seem truly inspired by their work ethic and selflessness.
“It’s very exciting,” DeVonta Smith said. “You see those guys come in every day and they’re competing. They’re going out there and they’re getting reps with the offense and then helping the defense out with scout team and things like that. You see those guys getting all these reps it, doing all the things they have to do and when they’re number’s called, they’re making plays. It’s very exciting.”
Scott this season has had six games in which he got exactly zero offensive snaps. On Sunday when the Eagles clinched their playoff spot, he had 86 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns.
Ward has played 12 games this season without recording a catch, but in the last three weeks, he’s made some huge grabs, including a touchdown catch in Week 15 and the catch that moved the sticks on 3rd-and-14 on Sunday.
Would Scott and Ward like to play more? Absolutely.
Would they like to play more consistently? Duh.
Have they complained about their roles this year? No way.
In the last few days, we’ve heard stories about Scott and Ward that make you understand why their teammates respect them so much.
On Sunday afternoon, Hurts told a story about Scott making the 4-hour trip from Louisiana to Houston to work out with him this offseason. And when Hurts wanted to start their workouts at 5 a.m., Scott didn’t blink. Scot was on the field waiting for him.
“The desire and the want to and obviously for him to step up in a big time way is big,” Hurts said. “A lot of respect for him.”
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Jalen Reagor told a similar story about Ward. A couple weeks ago after a home game, Ward asked Reagor for a ride from the Linc to the NovaCare Complex, just a few blocks away. Ward just played an NFL football game but he wanted to get back to the facility and get a lift in.
“That’s just a testament to who he is and his character,” Reagor said.
Just a couple years ago, Ward and Scott played big roles when the Eagles made their last playoff run. And here they are this season, doing it again.
We’ll see how big their roles are down the stretch.
Maybe they’ll keep getting these chances.
“I hope so. I hope so,” Ward said. “I’m just going to stay ready when my name is called. That’s all I’m focused on.”