Surprise Eagles Player Named ‘Leader of the Room’ at Receiver

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Houston dual-threat quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (Getty)

The Eagles are banking on their revamped receivers to help out Carson Wentz. Surprisingly, a former practice-squad member is setting the mood.

With Alshon Jeffery on the mend and stashed on the PUP list — and DeSean Jackson finally healthy and putting his own drama behind him — it’s been the leadership of Greg Ward Jr. guiding the receivers group so far at training camp.

His name has been mentioned twice already in the same breath as Jeffery and Jackson, including a huge vote of confidence from his head coach. Previously thought to be on the roster bubble, Ward may be in line for a starting role in 2020.

“We expect some really big things from Greg,” Pederson told reporters. “He can also be a leader. He can be a leader of that group. Him and DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, these guys, they can be leaders now and mentors to these young players. The one thing now as he goes into this season, he’s in that rotation, in that starting mix for us.”

Ward’s new position coach, Aaron Moorehead, was quick to praise the Texas native for taking control of the wide receivers room. The 25-year-old former quarterback from the University of Houston has “exceed expectations.”

“Greg is one of the leaders of the room, if not the leader of the room,” Moorehead said. “So far, he’s done nothing but exceed my expectations. Greg’s in a good mental place right now. As you look at his abilities — he’s a very good natural receiver, has good spatial awareness, understands where the zones are, understands how to beat coverage, some of that comes from him having played quarterback.”

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Former Eagles WR Works Out for Lions

Former fifth-round draft pick Shelton Gibson worked out for the Detroit Lions on Friday. He was joined by veteran wideouts Chris Hogan, Krishawn Hogan and Keon Hatcher and caught balls from quarterback Trevor Simien, per ESPN’s Field Yates. The Eagles released Gibson right before training camp opened last month.

The 25-year-old has bounced off and on the Eagles’ practice squad since 2017 and spent time part of last season in Cleveland. Gibson has three receptions for 59 yards in 21 games for Philadelphia, including six playoff games and Super Bowl LII. He carved out a reputation more as a special-teams ace than a wide receiver, particularly on punt coverage where he owned the gunner role.

Gibson admitted during his rookie year that he was having problems learning the Eagles’ complex playbook. It was a challenge he promised to embrace.

“When I first came in here, I was all over the place and just thinking a lot,” Gibson said in 2017, via USA Today. “I couldn’t play with as much confidence that I always played with. This game is about how you bounce back. Catching the ball, I was so thrown off as far as if I am in the right split, did I get the right depth and I was getting lost in everything.”

Maybe it didn’t help that former Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh was his receivers coach. The team fired Groh this offseason and replaced him with Moorehead. The Lions haven’t signed Gibson yet but let’s hope they do. The speedy receiver definitely has the talent to succeed.

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