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Eagles to Stick with Committee Approach at WR3, Julio on Limited Playing Time?

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PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Eagles were relieved to learn that star receiver DeVonta Smith escaped serious injury after a scare during a recent game.

In their recent 35-31 loss to Arizona, Smith hurt his right ankle while attempting to block for Kenny Gainwell in the final moments of the game. Thankfully, by Wednesday, Smith was out of the walking boot and moving around fairly well in the Eagles’ locker room, although he was not able to participate in the team’s walkthrough.

As the Eagles prepared for a full-scale practice on Thursday, Smith’s absence raised concerns about his ability to play in the upcoming regular-season game against the New York Giants. With the Wild Card round playoff game on the horizon, the team’s focus was on ensuring that Smith was fully recovered for the more important postseason matchup.

Smith’s contributions to the team have been significant, with 81 receptions for 1,066 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season. His partnership with Pro Bowl selection A.J. Brown has given the Eagles a formidable receiver duo, providing quarterback Jalen Hurts with valuable offensive options.

However, the team has faced challenges in finding a reliable third receiver, as their attempts with Quez Watkins, Olamide Zaccheaus, and in-season acquisition Julio Jones have been less than successful. While formerly one of the NFL’s best players, 34-year-old Jones is starting to show promise after a two-touchdown performance against the Cardinals.

In that game, Jones saw more playing time than Zaccheaus and Watkins combined. Despite being on the field for less than half of the offensive snaps, Jones was able to make a substantial impact, a clear sign of his potential to contribute in future games.

Collectively, the three players have accounted for just 24 receptions, 254 yards, and five touchdowns, which reflects the ongoing struggle to secure a dependable third receiver.

Quez Watkins has struggled this season
Quez Watkins has struggled this season. © Eric Canha USA TODAY

If Smith is unable to play in the upcoming game against the New York Giants, it could provide important insight into the Eagles’ approach to the position. Although it seems likely that Julio Jones will be the designated player for this role, head coach Nick Sirianni has not confirmed this, indicating that Jones is on a restricted playing schedule as he continues to work his way back into the team after his mid-season arrival.

However, Sirianni’s comments have left open the possibility for Zaccheaus and Watkins to step up. He acknowledged that, despite their recent lack of playing time, both players have unique qualities that could make an impact in future games.

Related: A.J. Brown Opens Up on Failed Improv

The team’s assessment of Zaccheaus remains positive, with Sirianni praising his dedicated efforts and distinctive playing style, suggesting that he continues to play an instrumental role within the team.

Ultimately, it appears that the Eagles’ strategy for the third receiver position will remain consistent, with a focus on a shared contribution from all three players. Without a distinct number three, Sirianni expressed a readiness to adapt the team’s approach based on their ongoing evaluation of Smith’s status and the potential involvement of other players.

As the Eagles progress toward the playoffs, the team’s handling of Smith’s injury and plans for future games will be vital to their continued success this season.

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