Intriguing WR Replacements After Eagles Speedster Hits COVID-19 List

KeeSean Johnson

Getty The Eagles signed former Fresno State standout KeeSean Johnson to their practice squad.

The Philadelphia Eagles placed receiver Quez Watkins and running back Jason Huntley on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. No corresponding roster moves were announced, although Watkins’ potential absence opens up the door.

The second-year burner from Southern Miss out-snapped every receiver on the team in Week 13. Watkins saw 55 offensive snaps against the New York Jets, compared to 48 for Jalen Reagor and 44 for DeVonta Smith. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside had 14 and that was it. The Eagles could make veteran Greg Ward a bigger part of the gameplan or they could elevate a practice squad receiver.

John Hightower would be the most logical option considering he’s been protected multiple times this season. The 2020 fifth-rounder hasn’t materialized into a reliable target and last played in Week 9 (November 7) when he fumbled a kickoff return.

Philadelphia also has Deon Cain and KeeSean Johnson patiently waiting for opportunities. Neither player has seen any game action since 2020. They do bring considerable speed and some fun intrigue to the position. Cain has nine career catches for 124 yards, while Johnson has 36 receptions for 360 yards and a touchdown.

Johnson was a quiet pickup by the Eagles coming out of training camp. The 6-foot-1, 201-pounder left Fresno State as the program’s all-time leader in career receptions (275) and career receiving yards (3,463). He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine before going to the Arizona Cardinals in the sixth round. His former receivers coach there once compared his sneaky speed to a motorcycle.

Meanwhile, Huntley has spent the entire 2021 campaign on the practice squad. He had an excellent camp and flashed as a speedy and sure-handed option at kick returner. The Eagles have been reluctant to elevate Huntley and test him out, though.

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Eagles Like Depth in Receivers Room

Head coach Nick Sirianni has never wavered in his confidence in the wide receivers already on the roster. Remember, he was a position coach for many years and has a natural eye for talent. Sirianni specifically called out Johnson and Cain when asked about the team possibly making a move for Odell Beckham back on November 5. He wasn’t interested.

“I feel good about their backups, as well, with Greg Ward and J.J. and some of the guys, Deon Cain, that we have on the practice squad,” Sirianni said. “And Hightower, who we have on the practice squad, and KeeSean Johnson, who we have on the practice squad. I feel good about that room. It’s a lot of different skill sets in that room that we really like.”

NFL Sees Spike in Positive COVID-19 Tests

Watkins and Huntley were one of many to hit the Reserve/COVID-19 List on Monday. The NFL saw 36 total players – 25 on active rosters, 11 on practice squads – turn in positive tests, according to NFL Network’s Tom Peliserro. The league is now requiring COVID-19 booster shots for Tier 1 and Tier 2 personnel.

Two players for the Washington Football Team – defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and linebacker David Mayo – hit the Reserve-COVID-19 List. Allen leads the team in sacks (7.5), quarterback hits (25), and tackles for loss (9). Mayo has 13 total tackles and a fumble recovery in 13 games.

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