Rookie QB Wentz has Agholor looking up
With new quarterback under center, the receiver is feeling optimistic
PHILADELPHIA >> Nelson Agholor has found a reason to play.
Unofficially it’s Eagles rookie Carson Wentz.
Agholor caught four of five passes Wentz threw his way in the Eagles’ 29-10 drubbing of the Cleveland Browns Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. Three of those receptions went for 22 yards. The fourth catch, a 35yard touchdown, not only broke the game open but made Agholor feel like he belonged.
“It was an amazing ball by Carson and then even greater for him was to give me an opportunity,” Agholor said. “And I’m very grateful. He had two receivers to throw to and he gave me an opportunity. For me, that play, and for those to be the results, it’s gratifying because now it reminds you when you go back to practice you have to continue to prepare like the way I did to get those results.”
Sam Bradford could not imme-
“He had two receivers to throw to and he gave me an opportunity. For me, that play, and for those to be the results, it’s gratifying because now it reminds you when you go back to practice you have to continue to prepare like the way I did to get those results.” – Eagles WR Nelson Agholor
diately be reached for comment.
No Eagles receiver from the Chip Kelly era had been less consistent than Agholor, who typically would make a decent play, only to be followed with an encore that left you shaking your head and asking why?
There were passes Agholor could have caught but instead tipped and became interceptions. There was the dazzling one-handed catch against Washington followed by a fumble on a trick play and a loss for the Eagles.
The Eagles are hoping Agholor’s touchdown grab
against the Browns, one in which he beat standout corner Joe Haden to the pylon, defines the rest of his career.
“I feel like Nelson came out and played a great game,” said Jordan Matthews, who caught 7 passes for 114 yards, including a 19yard score. “He’s not worried about the fact that that’s one of the best corners in the league against him. Nelson did his thing and then Carson put it where it had to be. I feel like that play was really big for us. I think it really gave us a lot of energy.”
Agholor played 67 of the 77 offensive snaps. Matthews, who played 71, was the only skills player to get more snaps.
Agholor didn’t have a great preseason. Some wondered if Chip Kelly’s 2015
first-round pick would be traded. Agholor in his rookie year seemed anything but a deep threat except for his 53-yard TD grab last year against an injury-plagued Bills secondary.
Eagles wide receivers coach Greg Lewis, at least for one week, convinced Agholor to get over the past and keep pounding the rock in practice. Only then do good things happen such as the back-breaking TD on the Browns.
“It was something I’ve trained all week for,” Agholor said. “G-Lew works on me with it every day. We work on stance and start every day in practice. And I’d been exploding off the ball for the two quarters before that. I felt like Joe had seen me explode off the ball so he
had to be on his Ps and Qs and the opportunity came where it was a footrace and I got to do a release and it was a footrace.”
Tight end Zach Ertz made two seriously tough catches in the opener. His onehanded, over-the-shoulder grab was the first completion of Wentz’s pro career. It followed a drop by Matthews. Ertz’s second big grab was a five-yarder on fourth-and-four at the 40yard line of Cleveland. On the next play, Wentz went up top to Agholor to give the Eagles a 12-point lead.
Ertz’s reaction was to talk about Wentz and then Agholor.
“I was really happy for Nelson to get that touchdown,” Ertz said. “He’s worked so hard this offseason
to just be better with his hands and mentally be better, and I thought he did an unbelievable job.”
It’s early but Agholor has a purpose to play for in Wentz, and that’s good news for the Eagles.
“Carson’s the type of quarterback that he’s going to give you a shot and you better be ready,” Agholor said. “So that’s my mindset every time I line up with Carson. There are no plays off. When you know that we’re throwing the football, everybody is a viable option.”
*** NOTES » Hard to believe that Ertz played just 60 of 77 offensive snaps Sunday. Tight end Brent Celek and running back Darren Sproles played just 38 snaps each. Running back Ryan Mathews played 37 snaps, 22 of them rushes. Mathews gained 77 yards and scored a TD … Eagles center Jason Kelce appreciated the work of 335-pound defensive tackle Beau Allen, who helped clear the way for Mathews’ one-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter. “Honey Beau-Beau,” Kelce said, “is the best fullback in the league.” … Safety Malcolm Jenkins and the Eagles shut out Browns Pro Bowl tight end Gary Barnidge. Barnidge was targeted twice and dropped both passes … Speaking of snaps, the Philly defense was on the field for just 51 in the opener. Last year the D averaged a shade under 76 snaps thanks to Chip Kelly’s up-tempo, three-and-out offense.
Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor, left, scored on this second-half catch Sunday. The touchdown helped the Birds win, 29-10, and made Agholor feel a connection with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz.