‘We’re Moving Forward’ Says Eagles Coach, Offense Turns to Ex-Jets WR

Deontay Burnett

Getty Eagles WR Deontay Burnett played in five games for the New York Jets in 2018.

Carson Wentz has two receivers on the active roster. Two is better than one, right?

The Eagles officially ruled out Alshon Jeffery (foot) and DeSean Jackson (hamstring) for Sunday, along with listing J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (calf) questionable. Their lack of depth at wideout was the major problem plaguing them last year.

Not much has changed in 2020. Philly will go into this weekend’s must-win matchup against San Francisco with only Greg Ward and John Hightower as confirmed participants. Deontay Burnett, Travis Fulgham, and Marcus Green remain intriguing options down on the practice squad. The status of rookie sixth-rounder Quez Watkins is still unknown.

“We’re moving forward,” head coach Doug Pederson told reporters on Friday. “If they can’t, then we move forward with the guys that we have. We’re excited about the guys we’ve got and the guys that we’ve been working with this week in practice.”

One of the guys he’s sure to lean on is Burnett. The 22-year-old made three catches for 19 yards last week and saw significant burn down the stretch in 2019. Burnett made a spectacular 41-yard catch in Week 17, plus a five-yard grab in the wild-card playoff loss to Seattle. He has 15 career receptions for 210 yards in seven regular-season games. That experience has paid huge dividends for the former Jets receiver.

“It’s helped me a lot because I can just go back to last year and remember some of the plays,” Burnett said. “As long I can continue to study and just work hard, just go over my craft and my playbook, so it’s definitely helped me a lot.”

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Preparing Like He’s a Starting WR

The Eagles haven’t officially called up Burnett from the practice squad but they can do that on Saturday. It would be shocking if they didn’t after making him available to answer questions from the media. The former USC standout has a firm grasp of Pederson’s system, plus he has the right attitude.

“I look at it as an opportunity, you know, this has been definitely a different year,” Burnett said, “and I feel like everybody on the team has to prepare like their a starter. For me, it’s been like I’m a starter, I just continue to prepare so I’ll be ready when my number is called.”

Burnett has every right to mad after see-sawing between the active roster and practice squad. He sat and watched during the offseason as the Eagles drafted three receivers (John Hightower, Quez Watkins, Jalen Reagor) and traded for a marquee veteran (Marquise Goodwin). Instead of holding a grudge, he used it as motivation.

“I’m here with the Philadelphia Eagles and thankful for the opportunities,” Burnett said. “I’m just staying the course, whether that’s practice squad or on the 53-man roster, whatever they want me to do, that’s what I’m here for.”

What is Eagles’ Identity on Offense?

So what is the Eagles’ identity on offense this year? It’s a million-dollar question, one that the late-great Regis Philbin would be better suited to ask. Well, Pederson took a crack at it on Friday and pinned it on the arm of his franchise quarterback. Wentz is the glue that binds the offense.

“I would define the identity as using the strength — number one, you’ve got to go off the strength, I think, of your quarterback, and then you build your plans around that,” Pederson said. “So obviously the identity, you want to be able to run the football, play-action pass, the QB movements … the screens, you’ve got to mix in the screens effectively in your system.”

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