Philadelphia Eagles Receivers a Crapshoot, Demps and Jones To Battle It Out

dennis bovellContributor IMay 23, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 12:  Wide receiver DeSean Jackson #10 of the Philadelphia Eagles catches a 27-yard pass in front of defensive back Tarell Brown #25 of the San Francisco 49ers during their game on October 12, 2008 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. Philadelphia won 40-26.  (Photo by Greg Trott/Getty Images)

For the first time in Donovan McNabb’s Eagles career, the wide receiver position seems to be a team strength. It may be a dogfight for playing time there (and not because Mike Vick was released), with only DeSean Jackson’s starting status a certainty at this point.

Kevin Curtis, the other incumbent starter, may not hold that title come 1 p.m. September 13th. Curtis has been frequently injured throughout his Eagles tenure, and is currently on the wrong side of 30. We’ve all seen how the Eagles feel about players in their thirties. 

Another battle is brewing between Hank Baskett and Jason Avant. Avant proved his worth last season with his work in the slot, and Andy Reid seems to appreciate his toughness. 

At 6’4 220 pounds, Baskett is the biggest of the wide receivers on a team in desperate need of a big red zone target. He had one more reception than Avant last season (33).  Baskett is also engaged to Kendra Willkinson, which will certainly make him feel better if he loses out to Avant.

Obviously, Maclin is guaranteed a spot on the depth chart.  Where he fits in and how quickly he picks up the offense is an unknown factor. 

Reid’s offense has been known to give younger players fits trying to understand it (I’m sure Ryan Moats can provide a tutorial), and DeSean Jackson had the advantage of playing in a pro-style offense in college. Jackson has clearly become the Birds number one, which brings us to our wild-card. 

Reggie Brown.

Brown is an enigma. Coming off a 61 reception season, he was expected to step up big last season. Unfortunately for him, 18 catches and a couple deactivations later, he may be the odd man out. 

If Brown really is out to prove himself, as he told Comcast SportsNet earlier this month, he could be lining up beside Jackson. If not, he could be lining up in the unemployment line.

With the Eagles ready to make a run at a championship, there aren’t many other positions up for grab. 

The departure of Brian Dawkins left a hole at free safety, which was expected to be filled by Quentin Demps. Who is Quentin Demps you say? 

He’s the safety twirling around and falling on his face, like Pat Burrell chasing down a fly ball, while Larry Fitzgerald takes a Kurt Warner flea-flicker to the end zone in the NFC championship.

He’s the guy taking a cheap shot on Warner for and costing the Eagles 15 yards.

All that said, don’t judge the guy off of one game.  Demps has speed and great ball-skills (flea-flicker withstanding). He had a full season to mentor under the best safety in team history, as well as too learn Jim Johnson’s system. 

Should Demps not progress as expected, the Eagles brought in former Brown Sean Jones.

Jones is a big hitter who has the ability to win a starting spot.  If Jim Johnson is looking for someone to bring in the box (much like he used Dawkins), look for Jones to be the starter with Quentin Mikell moved to free safety. 

The caveat?

Jones may have difficulty adapting to the scheme, coming from the 3-4 defense run in Cleveland.