Aug 082010

August 8 Philadelphia Inquirer

“No athlete would ever acknowledge being grateful for an opportunity to shine at the expense of a teammate, but injuries that sidelined Eagles wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin did create opportunities for the backup wideouts who hope to make the Birds’ roster.

“Those are our two star players, so we’re just hoping they get healthy so they could get back on the field and make plays for us. That’s what we’re wishing for,” said first-year wide receiver Chad Hall. “But in training camp, it’s just extra reps for everyone else to get better. That’s what we’re doing and we’re taking advantage of them.

“The more plays you run, the more balls you catch – it just helps your confidence.”

Aside from playing wide receiver, Hall shares something else with rookie Riley Cooper and veterans Hank Baskett and Kelley Washington – they all play on special teams. And as coaches mull roster decisions, players realize their future may hinge on being able to fill dual roles.

Right now, nothing is certain except that Jackson, Maclin, and Jason Avant have defined roles with the Eagles. So through the end of training camp and into the preseason, the backups will continue to battle for recognition.

“The wide receiver corps, that’s a competitive deal,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “Obviously, you can’t keep all of them, so they’re making it tough on us and that’s a good thing.”

Added Baskett: “The more competition you have, the better your game’s going to be because you play to your competition. If you feel like you get complacent, that brings your level down. But if you have to push yourself every day, it’s only going to improve your game.”

Baskett is in his second stint with the organization, and that makes the five-year NFL veteran a known quantity. He has been used as a tight end and can block well. His 6-foot-4 frame gives him an advantage.”

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