You see all the highlight plays. The crazy, leaping one-handed catches Jalen Reagor’s been making at Eagles practice.
And, sure, those are impressive.
But what’s even more impressive – and even more important - is that he’s making routine catches. He’s making challenging catches. He’s making contested catches. Lately, he’s making all the catches.
Reagor’s second NFL training camp may have gotten off to a slow start with that failed conditioning test, but he’s been exceptional in the last two practice blocks – the days leading up to the Steelers game and then the last three sessions, including both joint practices with the Patriots.
There’ve been a lot of encouraging things in these first two weeks of camp, but Reagor’s emergence and his ability to consistently make plays has been eye-opening.
Now, whether he can carry it over to the games remains to be seen. We won’t begin to get an answer to that until next month. And we’ve all seen plenty of wide receivers who couldn’t turn those fabulous Augusts into fabulous Septembers.
But there’s no question the Jalen Reagor we’re seeing this summer is a different guy than the one we saw last year.
More comfortable. More confident. More focused. More accountable.
“That guy for sure is getting better every single day,” Greg Ward said. “His attention to detail, his aggression, his love for the game. That guy’s come out here and worked every single day. You can tell that he wants to get better and he is. He’s making plays. He had a crazy catch (Tuesday) in 1-in-1’s. That guy’s making crazy plays, man. For sure going to have a big year.”
Now, everything around him is better. The offense as a whole has looked efficient and crisp this summer. The offensive line is healthy and intact. Nick Sirianni’s background is coaching wide receivers, and he’s pushing these guys hard, and they’re responding. Jalen Hurts has for the most part been effective and productive running the operation.
That all helps.
But Reagor also just seems different this year. It happens sometimes from Year 1 to Year 2. You realize what it takes to become a pro. You grow up a little. You recognize nothing will be handed to you. You learn to focus on things that are important and ignore things that aren’t.
Some guys are stars from Day 1. Yeah, like Justin Jefferson. Reagor wasn’t. His rookie year was disappointing.
It’s taken a while, but he looks great.
Before practice on Tuesday, Sirianni singled out Reagor’s 1-on-1 work against the Patriots.
“I really like the development that's happened,” Sirianni said. “The thing with Jalen, what I was real impressed with, was particularly his 1-on-1s. I thought he had a good day all together. But his 1-on-1s, now, were special, and he was starting to use some techniques that we want him to see because we all know that he has phenomenal athleticism.
“So it was like, ‘Can we put … that football ability and your athleticism and can you combine fundamentals and technique with it,’ and that's when you reach your ceiling. What I saw Jalen do in those one-on-ones, he was great off the line of scrimmage of how he was moving a guy, he was good at the top of the route. He finished with the catch. … I really see him growing.”
What should we expect from Reagor this year?
He averaged 36 yards per game last year dealing with injuries, no OTAs or preseason games, a disastrous offense with a slumping quarterback, a terrible offensive line and bad play calling.
It’s too early to guess a number, but with DeVonta Smith presumably drawing the opponent’s top corner much of the time, there will be plenty of opportunities for him to make plays.
“Repetition brings confidence and it brings comfort and it’s a real thing, and I see it in all the receivers,” Hurts said when asked about both Reagor and Quez Watkins. “The more reps we get, the more we’re coached, the better we are. It’s always an uphill climb and we just want to take those steps every day.”
The Eagles now have two homegrown 1st-round wide receivers on the roster for the first time since Mike Quick and Kenny Jackson.
Everybody expects Smith to be a star, and based on last year, expectations for Reagor were modest.
If this keeps up, it’s going to be time to rethink those expectations.
There’s something there.
He has a chance.
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