New teammates Nelson Agholor, Jalen Mills reflect on Eagles careers


For four years, Jalen Mills and Nelson Agholor battled at Eagles practice and after a one-year respite those battles will continue this fall.

Mills and Agholor, teammates with the Eagles from 2016 through 2019, are now reunited in New England under Bill Belichick, whose Patriots they helped topple in Super Bowl LII three years ago in Minneapolis.

“Me and Nelson, we had some battles,” Mills said recently, according to the Pats Pulpit website. “I’m talking about, in camp, real steamy battles until we were going at it with each other. But at the end of the day, that’s what you want. You want that competition.”

Mills signed a four-year, $24 million dollar free agency contract with the Patriots after spending his first five seasons with the Eagles. Agholor signed a two-year, $22 millon deal after one season with the Raiders. He also spent his first five year with the Eagles.

It’s impossible to think about Mills and Agholor playing together for the Patriots without thinking about what a key role both played for the Eagles during the Super Bowl run three years ago.

The biggest moment of Mills' career was his coverage of Julio Jones on Matt Ryan's potential game-winning pass on the final play of the postseason opener.

The pinnacle of Agholor’s career came a few weeks later, with his 9-for-84 receiving in the Super Bowl, including three huge 1st-down receptions in a row on the game-winning 4th-quarter touchdown drive.

“That had a lot to do with my growth as a professional,” Agholor said, via Pats Pulpit. “You know about how they prepare. You know that you can’t make mistakes; the Patriots don’t beat themselves. For me, how I prepared with my wide receiver coach (Mike Groh) and my offensive coordinator (Frank Reich) those two weeks was with that level of discipline. I think it allowed me to perform at a high level on that stage. Being in that environment helped me find growth.”

Agholor struggled in 2019 but found his game last year with the Raiders with a career-high 896 yards, a career-high-tying 8 TD catches and an AFC-leading 18.7 yards per catch.

Mills also had a bounce-back season, although it went largely unnoticed in the rubble of a 4-10-1 season. But he played well enough shuttling back and forth between corner and safety to get Belichick's attention.

Mills and Agholor have a lot in common. Both had notable ups and downs during their days with the Eagles, both came up big during the 2017 playoff run, both spent five years with the Eagles before leaving and both were often the object of fan derision, sometimes fairly and sometimes not.

Now they’re teammates again, and Mills said he can’t wait to battle Nelly at practice, just like the old days.

“You know it’s not going to be every day you can dominate him,” Mills said. “Me, I want a guy who’s going to be able to challenge me. One day I get him, the next day he gets me. And it just goes on and on. You know that saying, ‘Iron sharpens iron.’ And that’s what you want because at the end of the day it’s all about having that guy in front of you getting you ready to be able to perform at a high level on Sunday.”

Added Nelly: “I like him a lot. I think he’s a very, very talented player and also an ultimate competitor. So, I’m excited for him to be here with us.”

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