Just when you thought the Eagles’ WR woes were in the books, they got a little bit worse. The same day that Riley Cooper returned to practice after the debacle he underwent with his racial slur at a concert, the Eagles lost another two WRs from their roster. Arrelious Benn, who was shaping up to be the 5th receiver in the depth chart, tore his ACL today in practice, meaning he will be done for the year. That put the team down to ten WRs on their roster for camp right now, until another one was released from the team. David Ball, who is sometimes known as the “White Rice” for beating some of Jerry Rice’s college records, was released from the team today as well.
Ball, who attended University of New Hampshire, broke these records while Chip Kelly was the Offensive Coordinator for the school. He has the Division I-AA record for most TD receptions and most games with 100+ yards. He’s also second in receiving yards, which he only trailed Rice by 38 yards. Unfortunately, this is where his career basically ended as he jumped from team to team in various pro football leagues, ironically scoring his only NFL TD in a preseason game against the Eagles.
Benn was supposed to be just an extra WR on the team that could also return some kicks or punts if they needed him, but it looks like that won’t be happening this year. He was in a trade that also involved some low round picks, so the risk was low, which means it’s not a travesty that he’s hurt. But still, it hurts that they’re down another receiver after also losing Jeremy Maclin for the year. Benn had signed a one-year extension through the 2014 season though, so he’ll still be on the team next year if they decide to just put him on the IR.
With Benn and Ball gone, it puts their WR situation in an even bleaker position. DeSean Jackson and Cooper were named the starters on the depth chart, which was just recently released, but how good will they be as a tandem? The next two guys are Jason Avant and Damaris Johnson, who aren’t bad options, but Johnson is more of a 5th or 6th receiver than a 3rd or 4th. If the Eagles want to keep 6 receivers on the team and only go off the guys they have, they’re going to have to search hard. The remaining guys are Nick Miller, Ifeanyi Momah, Will Murphy, Greg Salas, and Russell Shepard. Combined, these 5 guys have 7 years of NFL experience, and none of them has really done anything in the NFL, which means the Eagles will have to make some new stars.
Miller was the guy that was signed by the team after Maclin was placed on IR, and he has the most experience, including a punt return TD last year for the Rams. He might be a valuable player to have on the team for kick returning reasons, but he’s not much of a threat on offense. Momah is an undrafted free agent that didn’t play at all last year, which means he has no real NFL experience despite being out of college for a year. Murphy is another undrafted free agent who likely is only at camp because he went to Oregon and has a connection with Coach Kelly. Salas was on the roster for part of last year after the team released Mardy Gilyard, but he doesn’t have any experience in a regular season game. Shepard is yet another undrafted FA from this year, who was a QB in high school before being converted to WR at LSU. Ironically, he was the top QB of his incoming class in 2009 along with Matt Barkley, who’s also on the Eagles.
So after looking at the team’s options, I realize there aren’t many. My guess at this point is that Benn moves to the IR and Miller and Salas make the team because of their experience, but anything could really happen. Kelly could look to go with Murphy because of his connection to Oregon, or with Shepard because of his high-profile background at LSU. Who knows, one of these guys could always tear his ACL as well and make things even more interesting…