Eagles Rookie ‘Magician’ Shakes Off Comparisons: ‘Another Man’s Journey’

Jalen Reagor

Getty Eagles WR Jalen Reagor was the 21st overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Jalen Reagor — the Eagles rookie phenom dubbed “The Magician” by former Pro Bowler Chad Johnson — hasn’t been able to wave his wand and pull too many rabbits out of his helmet. Don’t worry, he’s still building trust and growing chemistry with his quarterback. Reagor has had to overcome two unexpected injuries while dealing with a slew of haters. Keep the faith.

Reagor, who was selected 21st overall in April’s draft, was forced to leave Eagles training camp on Aug. 30 after suffering a torn labrum. That injury was expected to sideline him for at least four weeks but he expedited the timeline and played Week 1. Then, Reagor injured his thumb on Sept. 20 and underwent surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament. The 21-year-old was back ahead of schedule once again, yet all that missed practice time with Carson Wentz has taken its toll on one of the game’s most promising young speed receivers.

“I wasn’t out there. I wasn’t able to get those practice reps with Carson,” Reagor told reporters on Tuesday. “It is what it is. I wasn’t out there so that’s a part of growing and getting chemistry and it doesn’t make it no better because I’m a rookie. he has to build trust in me and get comfortable with what I’m doing. Look at him and [Zach] Ertz, it’s chemistry.”

Please don’t read Reagor’s comments as an excuse, or give him a pass. He’s trying to catch up on that lost production every week. He tied a career-high for targets (7) in Week 10 while hauling in four balls for 44 yards. He has 12 receptions for 159 yards and one touchdown in four games.

“I can’t make excuses,” Reagor said. “Whenever my time is called, I’m going to make the best of it and I just got to keep climbing the mountain each and every day.”

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Those Pesky Justin Jefferson Won’t Go Away

Fair or not, the comparisons between Reagor and Justin Jefferson might be here to stay. The Vikings drafted Jefferson 22nd overall, one pick after the Eagles took Reagor. While Reagor has battled injury after injury, the LSU product has taken the NFL by storm.

Jefferson’s statistics and accolades are bordering on historic: fourth-most receiving yards per game by a rookie (78.4), tops in the NFL in yards-per-route (3.23), most receiving yards in single coverage by a rookie receiver (366), the second-highest-graded receiver in press coverage (91.6) — and all this while ranking seventh in the NFL in receiving yards (762) and fourth in yards-per-catch (18.1). Insane.

Look, Reagor didn’t choose where he was drafted. Blame Eagles GM Howie Roseman for (possibly) reaching. Again, Reagor’s story is far from written and the injuries have done him no favors.

“That’s the only person that people bring up so I don’t know,” Reagor said when asked about the Jefferson comparisons. “He hasn’t had a lot of injuries, I have. I can’t watch another man’s journey. I just got to be ready to conquer mine when the time comes. What’s life without scars? It is what it is.”

But a few Philly reporters wouldn’t let it go. Reagor maturely elaborated on a situation he had no control over.

“That’s life. If y’all keep bringing it up, I’m just going to keep giving you the same answers,” Reagor said. “Y’all can keep bringing it up. What else do you want me to do? I can’t go make those things happen … when the time is gonna come, the time is gonna come — and if it’s meant to be, it’ll be.”

No Lack of Confidence for Reagor

The one thing Reagor has never lacked is confidence. He is the son of an accomplished NFL starter after all — Montae Reagor racked up 17 sacks in nine seasons — so nobody should know how to handle adversity better than the kid from Waxahachie, Texas.

“Confidence is me regardless if I have a 1,000-yard rookie season or a 500-yard rookie year,” Reagor said. “I can only control what I control. I’m going to forever be confident.”

Reagor made a point to mention that he is good friends with the fellow receivers in his draft class. He texts Broncos rookie Jerry Jeudy after almost every game and wants to see all of them, including Jefferson, succeed.

“I hope those guys keep shining,” Reagor said. “I know most of them so I wish the best to them, like I said, I want them to keep ballin'”.

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