Injuries giving a chance to lesser-known Birds
Injuries to the Eagles’ top three receivers are resulting in increased roles for guys like rookie J.J. Arecaga-Whiteside and former practice-squad player Greg Ward.
Don’t forget tight end Josh Perkins and receiver Robert Davis, either.
Perkins and Davis, who spent a combined 19 weeks on the Birds’ practice squad earlier this season, have acquitted themselves well with the playing time they’ve received this month on a team making a playoff push.
Perkins contributed five catches — on five targets — for 37 yards, including a 13-yard completion from Carson Wentz in overtime, in the Dec. 9 victory over the Giants, while Davis had a reception for six yards in last week’s win against the Cowboys.
Perkins has logged 74 offensive plays during the past three games and Davis has played 45 snaps over the last two weeks after getting 33 early-season snaps in Washington.
With Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz sidelined for Sunday’s regular-season finale vs. the Giants (4:25 on Fox), along with receivers DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, the Eagles are counting on Perkins and Davis once again.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Davis after Friday’s practice. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do — play meaningful games.”
“It’s great to get out there,” said Perkins with a smile. “I’ve been sitting on the practice squad since the beginning of the year. Just being able to show all the work I put in (paid off) was good for me and the other guys.”
Coach Doug Pederson has been utilizing the versatile 6-foot-3, 223-pound Perkins not only at tight end but as a slot and outside receiver, too. The 6-3, 210-pound Davis played outside in high school and during his record-setting career at Georgia State, and has mostly lined up outside with the Eagles.
Perkins came into the league undrafted out of Washington in 2016. He played one year with the Falcons, catching three passes for 42 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown from Matt Ryan, in eight games on the active roster and then spent the 2017 campaign on Atlanta’s practice squad.
The Eagles signed Perkins in January 2018 and he appeared in eight games before being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. He worked his way back to the 53-man roster this year following 11 weeks on the practice squad.
“Whatever they need me to do, I’m ready to go,” Perkins said.
A sixth-round pick by Washington in 2017, Davis spent 12 weeks on the practice squad before being promoted to the 53-man roster, though he didn’t get on the field for any offensive snaps. After spending 2018 on injured reserve with a knee injury, Davis logged 33 plays in three games with Washington early this season, catching one pass for 11 yards, before being waived Oct. 1. The Eagles signed him Oct. 7 and he finally got his chance here after eight weeks on the practice squad.
“It’s a blessing,” Davis said. “What I’ve always wanted to do is contribute to a team. Unfortunately, from 2017 on, I haven’t really been able to do that. Being able to help a team get wins like this is a good feeling.”
Both players are eager for Sunday when an Eagles victory would secure first place in the NFC East and a home playoff game the following week against the Seahawks or 49ers.
“You can’t ask for anything better than that,” Perkins said.
The goal for Perkins and Davis is to do as much as possible to help the Eagles this year and land a spot with one of the 32 NFL teams in 2020. “It’s the NFL,” Davis said. “Me, personally, I just try to take it day by day. I don’t really look too much in the future.”
While the future isn’t guaranteed, Perkins and Davis remained upbeat and were prepared when the chance they desperately wanted finally arrived.
“That’s what this league is about,” Perkins said. “You’ve just got to stay in it each and every year, each and every week, because at the drop of a hat, you could be in there playing like I was.
“One of my teammates my rookie year told me ‘stay ready so you don’t have to get ready,’” he said, laughing.
It’s safe to say Perkins and Davis are more the stay-ready types.
Tom Moore: firstname.lastname@example.org; @TomMoorePhilly