PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles suddenly seem loaded at wide receiver.
After signing Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in the offseason and adding Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson in the draft, Carson Wentz has more accomplished and talented options.
Jeffery, Smith and the rookies join Jordan Matthews, who has been a productive slot receiver, and 2015 first-round pick Nelson Agholor, who is having an excellent camp.
“The whole receiving room is more competitive,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “I think it is a little bit different than last year. (Jeffery and Smith) have made the room better. They’re good leaders on and off the field with the guys that we had here who were already strong in that area. So it’s been a good dynamic.”
Jeffery has the most impressive resume of the bunch. He went to one Pro Bowl and had two seasons with at least 80 catches and 1,100 yards receiving in Chicago.
“The sky’s the limit for us,” Jeffery said. “We just have to keep building. We’re working to try to be the best.”
Smith is a much-needed deep threat and brings experience. He started for the Ravens when they won the Super Bowl five years ago.
“You don’t let your lows define you, and you don’t let your highs get you so excited that you get complacent,” Smith said.
Matthews has averaged 75 catches, 890 yards and six touchdowns in his first three seasons.
“We have a lot of good weapons out there,” Matthews said. “When you have this many guys out there making plays, it motivates you to go out there and make a play.”
Agholor has been the biggest surprise this summer. After catching only 59 passes in his first two seasons, Agholor finally looks like a guy who was worth the 20th overall pick in the 2015 draft.
“I can’t take one day for granted,” Agholor said. “I have to come out ready to compete every day. There are guys out there that want to take your spot and guys out here who want to earn a spot so you have to fight.”
Everyone has noticed his progress.
“I really do think Nelson has gotten over the hump and had a great spring and a great training camp,” Reich said. “He’s just making a ton of plays out there. I think the defense knows when he’s on the field. I mean, he’s been a threat.”
The Eagles haven’t had a 1,000-yard receiver since Jeremy Maclin in 2014. Now they might have a problem trying to find ways to keep all the receivers happy.
Wentz had 3,782 yards passing in his rookie season, but the deep passing game was nonexistent. Wentz threw only 16 touchdowns and was 29th with 6.23 yards. Now he’s been showing off his arm strength and throwing long passes throughout camp.
“I love taking shots down the field, but some of those things are just kind of in-game,” Wentz said. “But when the chances are there, I’m definitely looking forward to taking those chances.”
The Eagles made another key move in the offseason when they hired Mike Groh to replace Greg Lewis as the receivers coach. Groh has helped the younger players, including Agholor, Marcus Johnson and Bryce Treggs. Coach Doug Pederson and personnel boss Howie Roseman will have difficult decisions when it’s time to trim the roster.
“Mike is an excellent coach,” Reich said. “He pushes them hard. He coaches them hard. And he’s done a fantastic job with fundamentals and technique. You can’t underestimate that.”
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