5 Eagles on offense with something to prove in 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia:
We’re just about a month away from the beginning of training camp and the excitement surrounding the Eagles’ season is palpable.
The Eagles have added plenty of big pieces to their roster and many consider them to be serious contenders to win the NFC East and to make a run in the playoffs.
But there are plenty of players who have something to prove, for various reasons, going into training camp in 2022.
Here are five on offense, in alphabetical order:
The Eagles’ 2019 second-round pick is running out of chances. This offseason, JJAW officially switched positions from wide receiver to tight end. It’s not an easy transition but there were hints in how the Eagles used him last season. Arcega-Whiteside in 2021 played 170 offensive snaps but caught just two passes. His role was as a blocking receiver for the Eagles’ heavy-running attack. After the season ended, head coach Nick Sirianni called JJAW the “enforcer” among their receivers. So it was somewhat natural for him to change positions to tight end.
But none of that means his transition is going to be easy. Dallas Goedert is entrenched as the Eagles’ top tight end, they bring back last year No. 2 Jack Stoll and also drafted Grant Calcaterra in the sixth round. And they also have Richard Rodgers, Noah Togiai and a recovering Tyree Jackson (ACL) on the roster. So JJAW faces an uphill battle and his rookie contract no longer protects his roster spot the way it did last season. This training camp and perhaps during the season, Arcega-Whiteside will have to prove that he’s an NFL tight end. Forget about his being a second-round pick, this is just about him trying to find a roster spot in Philadelphia or elsewhere.
The Eagles have been pretty clear – at least publicly – all offseason that Hurts is their guy going into the 2022 season. But after that? Well, that’s what Hurts will have to prove this season: That he’s a real franchise quarterback. Hurts definitely did some good things last year, his first as a full-time NFL starting quarterback. But there are also plenty of areas that he needs to improve. If he does not, then there’s a very good chance the Eagles won’t give him an extension and will likely look elsewhere to find their quarterback franchise. So there’s an awful lot riding on the 2022 season for the 23-year-old quarterback.
The Eagles have been impressed by Hurts’ work ethic and the approach he’s taken this offseason. They truly believe that Hurts will maximize his potential, but they might not know how good he can be. With the addition of AJ Brown this offseason, Hurts has some impressive weapons (Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, Quez Watkins, etc.) as well as an offensive line considered to be one of the best in the entire league. That also means there will be no excuses if Hurts can not perform at a higher level in 2022. Of all the players on this list, he’s the most obvious.
The Eagles went into last season with some hope for their 2020 first-round pick. After all, he had some nice moments in training camp – including a couple of spectacular one-handed catches – and there were at least some reasons to believe he’d be able to show why the Eagles drafted him at No. 21 overall. It did not go very well. Reagor ended up having an even worse second NFL season that followed a disappointing rookie campaign. In 2021, Reagor managed to catch just 33 passes for 299 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also struggled as a punt and kick returner.
Coming into this season, though, expectations could not be any lower for Reagor and maybe that’ll help. While he was the No. 2 receiver going into his second season, he’s the No. 5 on the roster right now behind AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal. He’s not a sure thing to make the roster but his contract situation will likely help him stick. He probably won’t see the field much on offense if the unit stays healthy but still has a chance to be a return man. Reagor will have a chance in camp and probably in the season to prove that he’s not a complete NFL bust. He’ll likely never live up to his draft status but this is about just sticking in the league.
When he’s on the field, Sanders has proven himself to be a productive NFL running back. Over the last two years, among players with 150+ carries, Sanders’ yards-per-carry average of 5.4 is second in the NFL behind Nick Chubb (5.6) and just ahead of Taylor (5.3). But as he enters a contract year, Sanders simply needs to prove he can stay on the field. If he does, he has a chance to cash in.
After playing in all 16 games as a rookie, Sanders played in just 12 in each of the last two seasons. Give Sanders credit for rushing back from a broken hand and surgery late last season to return for the playoffs game, but the amount of injuries is the concern, especially for a player at his position. In the last couple years, Sanders has had hamstring, knee and ankle injuries in addition to that broken hand.
After some struggles early in his career, the 2016 second-round pick settled down and became a pretty solid starting left guard for the Eagles in 2018 and 2019. But he managed to play just nine games in 2020 and suffered a Lisfranc injury in Week 3 of the 2021 season. And once rookie Landon Dickerson got into that spot, he played extremely well and now the Eagles aren’t moving him from that position. They hope he’ll hold down the left guard spot for the next decade.
So that leaves Seumalo, 28, as the favorite to win the right guard spot as he comes back from a very serious injury. Not only does Seumalo have to prove that he’s capable of playing on the right side of the line, but he also has to prove that he’s worth his $ 5.65 million base salary. He also has to prove that he’s fully recovered from the Lisfranc injury and can stay healthy, something he hasn’t been able to do in recent seasons.
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