It’s impossible to watch Deon Cain catch the football and not play the 53-man roster game.
Is there a spot for him?
Does he have a realistic chance?
If it comes down to Cain and Jalen Reagor, what will the Eagles do?
Cain has had a terrific training camp, and in the preseason game against the Browns on Sunday in Cleveland, he did the same thing he’s been doing all summer.
Caught everything thrown his way.
The 26-year-old wide receiver finished with five catches for 66 yards, including sweet consecutive back-shoulder gains of 24 and 23 yards from Gardner Minshew down the right sideline just before halftime.
“I just get more opportunities now and that is all I can say, and I am just trying to make the most of them,” Cain said. “That is all I can do. I have been working so hard for these opportunities and I am just trying to make the most of them.”
Cain is one of those guys you just can’t help rooting for because of his story.
The Colts drafted him in the sixth round in 2018 — yes, Nick Sirianni was his first offensive coordinator — and he had a terrific training camp before a torn ACL ended his season before it began.
Over the next few years, he was on and off various rosters and practice squads and dealt with a variety of injuries, and his career just never took off.
The Eagles signed him to their practice squad last October, and although he never made it onto the active roster, he had a chance to get acclimated, get comfortable again in Sirianni’s offense and get used to the quarterbacks, receivers and coaches.
And right from the start this summer, he’s looked fantastic.
“It is just a part of the journey, really,” he said. “That is all I can pretty much say. I have been working a lot, just making sure I am doing the right thing on and off the field. At the end of the day, you just have to keep doing your job and everything will just take care of itself.”
Cain has terrific size at 6-2, 200 pounds, outstanding hands and terrific body control, not to mention 4.42 speed. He’s just never been able to put it all together, make a team and stay healthy.
But he’s making a heck of a case for himself this summer.
“Me and Deon had a lot of experience on the scout team last year,” Minshew said. “He is a guy I have a ton of confidence in. Being able to do that in a game situation has been so much fun. I’m happy for him.
“I think he plays the ball really well in the air. You put it in the right spot, you can trust him to hold the guy off and make the play. I am always looking for him when he is out there.”
So what's next?
Final cuts are only eight days away, and assuming the Eagles keep six receivers — which is likely but not a guarantee — there are two roster spots available after the four locks — A.J. Brown, Zach Pascal, DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins.
Undrafted rookie Britain Covey has had a strong camp and is the Eagles’ best returner. Reagor is a former first-round draft pick and carries a significant cap hit if he’s released.
Where does that leave Cain?
Earmarked for the practice squad? He could get claimed but probably wouldn't.
If the Eagles manage to trade Reagor, it would open up a spot for Cain on the 53, but they’ve been trying to trade him for a while with no success. He hasn’t had a terrible camp but he hasn’t exactly done anything to increase his value.
Cain said he’s not worrying about final cuts or roster spots. If he was, he wouldn’t be focused on what really matters.
“Just do my job, that is obviously what I have been called to do here,” he said. “I mean, you can’t really just go out here thinking about competition because we are in a great competitive room. Everybody is going to do what they've got to do. I am just making sure I am handling my own and doing my job.”
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast