By Al Thompson
If you watch Eagles first-round pick Jalen Reagor, a wide receiver out of TCU, on the practice field or in front of 35 reporters on a video conference, you will notice one unmistakable trait … confidence.
When asked if the high marks and comparisons to elite NFL receivers he is drawing from Carson Wentz were helping his confidence, Reagor bristled.
“I mean, confidence is me,” he said. “I walk around with confidence. I have confidence, that’s natural to me. And just to hear that for him, for him to see that in me, it’s like, it just drives me to go harder, because I don’t want to be satisfied.”
Over the first two days of padded practices at NovaCare, Reagor hauled in some catches from Wentz where he saw lanes and made himself available to the quarterback you would only expect to see from a seasoned veteran.
But he also muffed two punts. When asked how he would grade those first two days, he replied, “I feel like they’ve been pretty solid days. I did have two muffs but there were the others, those were just two of, what, 70 punts? Or whatever the case may be. So, I mean, I feel like I’m making good progress, and I feel like I’m getting better each and every day. The coaches are giving me good feedback, and they see that I work hard and I want to get better every day, so that’s all I can do as a rookie.”
Reagor was asked how he liked going against three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, who is new to the team as well. His answer was all business.
“He’s a very lengthy corner, long arms,” Reagor said. “But it’s Darius Slay, he’s a great corner. He’s going to make my game day easier. I look forward to going against him every day.”
Reagor was asked why he likes to return kicks. A couple of muffed punts were not going to put a dent in his confidence armor.
“I mean, it’s, to me, it’s fun,” Reagor said with a smile. “I like to catch the ball and make somebody look foolish. It reminds me of growing up and playing throw-up tackle, see who catches the ball and it’s you against everybody. So it’s like you make that one guy miss and it’s a huge void (in front of you). It’s just fun, I love it.”
Does Reagor think he can look at all that is going on with the virus and be OK with lowering his expectations his rookie season? Or should he reach for the stars, regardless?
“Absolutely you just said it, I don’t look at it like, ‘Oh, it should be lower or it should be’ … I mean, it is what it is,” the 5-foot-11, 197-pounder said. “We didn’t have an offseason, we’re going through a pandemic. I mean, I can’t sit here and complain about that. I just have to show the coaches I can adapt. So, I don’t sit here and complain and say, oh, we had this, we had that. I just get the job done, and that’s what I’m here to do.”
During the days the media were allowed to watch practice, it was clear Wentz was having a good time challenging his new target.
“I mean, this has been a lot of fun just to work with him,” Wentz said at a recent video conference. “You know he is an explosive athlete. You can see that with his route-running ability, and his down-the-field presence. I mean, you turn on his highlight tape and you see what he does with the ball in his hands.”
Wentz said he can’t wait to see how these two can hook up when the action is for real
“That’s one thing that we haven’t been able to see, obviously with just practicing going on,” Wentz said, “But I know what he brings as a threat to the defense, and I know he’s really picked up on things really well. He’s always listening, always curious about why we’re doing things a certain way, or how I saw a certain play. That’s the type of thing I look for as a veteran.
“I look for these young guys that truly want to learn, they want to grow, they want to be great,” Wentz continued. “And I see that in him and I see an extremely bright future with him and I’m excited to help him become the player that he dreams of with me.”
Often, we hear a lot of rookies talking about the speed of the game. And apparently, the game has not been too fast for Reagor at this early point. He is seeing routes, he is seeing lanes and getting himself open for Wentz. Reagor was asked how he’s been able to slow the game down for himself.
“I’d say it’s mental,” he said. “And not getting overwhelmed because it’s a lot. It’s all what you make of it. I just look at it, I’m in this position for a reason. The coaches, this organization, they believed in me, so I just try to just make the best of every day entering this building. Like I said, they believed in me and I’m here to do the job and I’m here to get the job done.”
Reagor was asked about the chemistry he has built with Wentz. Watching practice, you can see the two talking after a play and it is obvious they are connecting. So, what are you guys talking about?
“It’s just conversations, it’s just us figuring out each other,” Reagor said. “You know I’m a different receiver, every receiver is different, every receiver has their different way of running routes or different ways they do things.
“Carson, he kind of embraces that about me. We just have conversations and just talk about certain ways I can run routes and get open and make plays. I feel like we’re jelling well. I love Carson, that’s my dude, and I look forward to a long, long career with him.”
Eagles Nation does as well. ••
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii.