Pair of Wide-Outs Hoping to Make Most of Opportunity
If there is one given that fans can expect to hear from NFL Training Camps its’ that there will be injuries. The Eagles can already attest to that, losing starting wide out Jeremy Maclin for the season with a torn ACL injury. What that means is that someone else will be given an opportunity to win a position and maybe even become a surprise starter.
The one area on offense right now has the Eagles and the fan base concerned is at wide receiver. With Maclin out and Riley Cooper away from the team for an undetermined amount of time, undrafted wide out Russell Shepard from LSU was running with the Eagles' first-team offense in Sunday's training camp practice. Meanwhile, Arrelious Benn who had been bothered by a knee injury has resumed practicing in training camp.
Benn was acquired with a 2013 seventh-round pick from the Bucs in exchange for a 2013 sixth-round pick and a 2014 conditional pick has been, sidelined since July 26 with a hyperextended knee and was working with the third- and fourth-team offenses. However, he could earn an opportunity to replace Jeremy Maclin with a big preseason.
"I was actually pleasantly surprised because of the time away, sometimes there is an ease back in factor, I didn't see that from him," said head coach Chip Kelly about Benn's camp so far. "I've got to obviously look at the film, but I thought he looked pretty good."
As far as Shepard is concerend, he is a big-time athlete, as evidenced by his 41 1/2-inch vertical and 11-foot-2 broad jump at the combine. Shepard also generated rave reviews during the spring, practicing primarily in the slot and at 6-1, 195 pounds he is actually one of the bigger wide outs on the roster.
Benn is 6-2, 230 pounds and is a "big" wide out that fans have yearned for, but he yet to show any consistency in the NFL. The former second-round pick was considered a bust in Tampa after tearing his ACL in 2010. Benn missed 11 of a possible 48 games with the Bucs, and was rarely 100 percent - so it will be hard to count on him for a full 16 game slate.
"He's a big, physical target, and he's also really good on teams," Kelly said about Benn. "So having that versatility of having your receivers that can contribute to special teams is a big help for us."
He has managed 59 catches for 862 yards and five touchdowns across 37 career games, making 24 starts.
Both of these guys have a shot to not only make the roster now, but to grab some meaningful playing time with Maclin out and Cooper's situation being still up-in-the-air.