PHILADELPHIA ( - A tough spring carried into the summer for Eagles rookie receiver Shelton Gibson.

So much so that the rookie fifth-round pick started to become an afterthought around training camp as wideouts with lesser pedigrees like Marcus Johnson and Greg Ward made more noise than the West Virginia product with the 4.4 speed.

The final 53 looked out of reach for Gibson a week ago and a redshirt year on the practice squad seemed like his ceiling for 2017 but something clicked for Gibson over the past week and the guy who wasn't making routine catches in individual drills started making spectacular ones in a team environment.

Gibson's confidence was back.

"Guys kept telling me I'm here for a reason," Gibson told when asked what has clicked for him recently.

The positive support system has paid dividends for Gibson, who started to show up at the open practice at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday when he jumped over a defensive back to haul in an underthrown ball and laid out for another.

On Monday inside the NovaCare practice bubble he made another spectacular catch on the far side of the field and punctuated things in a 10/10/10 session on Tuesday by snaring a bomb.

Where was that kind of playmaking ability before?

"I was thinking too much," Gibson admitted while explaining the route tree wasn't all that extensive for him as the deep threat at WVU. "When you are concerned with other things [running routes] you are out there thinking instead of just playing. ...I’m not where I want to be but I’m not going to keep getting down on myself."

Obviously Gibson is feeling more comfortable in his surroundings. Now the question is how deep was the hole he dug for himself?

As an 11 personnel team the Eagles will likely keep six bodies at the WR position with Alshon Jeffery, Jordan Matthews, Torrey Smith, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins being virtual locks. Johnson still has the inside track for the final spot but perhaps Gibson's speed can get him around the corner and back into the conversation.

It starts Thursday in Green Bay, the first NFL game Gibson will ever see in person.

"I've never even been to an NFL game before," Gibson said. "It's going to be special."

-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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