7 young players the Eagles need to keep in the lineup when veterans return
The Eagles have turned to younger players as injuries to veterans continue to mount.
Some of the young players will be replaced as soon as veterans such as right tackle Lane Johnson, wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, running back Miles Sanders and tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert return.
Those who will keep playing will make their share of mistakes.
"We've got some young players that are getting valuable experience," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "All that is encouraging moving forward. We know that we have got some of our veteran players that are getting healthy and hopefully we get them back soon, and it will kind of solidify everything for us."
Here's a look, then, at young players who should continue to play regularly, even when the veterans return:
7. Shaun Bradley, linebacker
The rookie from Temple was on the field for a season-high 32 snaps against the Ravens, taking the place of Duke Riley, who was out with a rib injury. Nathan Gerry and Alex Singleton both played nearly all of the snaps at linebacker.
Bradley had only one tackle against the Ravens. But considering how bad the linebacking corps has been as a whole, there's no reason why Bradley shouldn't continue to see snaps even when Riley and T.J. Edwards, who's on injured reserve, return.
The same is true with third-round pick Davion Taylor, who played 11 snaps Sunday, the first time he has played on defense. Taylor had two solo tackles.
6. Jack Driscoll, right tackle
Driscoll will take a seat as soon as Johnson is ready to play because Johnson is considered one of the top right tackles in the NFL. But Driscoll was doing well in Johnson's place Sunday until he, too, hurt his ankle.
Driscoll will likely miss a game or two. Johnson might already be back by the time Driscoll is ready to return.
Still, the Eagles should find a spot for him at right guard when Johnson returns.
5. John Hightower, wide receiver
By now, everyone has seen Hightower's drop of a deep ball on the third play of the game that should have gone for an 88-yard touchdown. Those were among the plays that cost the Eagles the game.
But Hightower's speed is impressive. He was well behind his defender on that play, just like he was in the fourth quarter, when he hauled in Carson Wentz's pass for 50 yards.
Hightower should continue to get those chances even when Jackson and Jeffery return.
Pederson said Hightower "has just shown massive improvements each week ... Those are the things that we've got to build on."
4. Jordan Mailata, left tackle
There's no way that Mailata should relinquish his spot when Jason Peters, who's on IR with a toe injury, is ready to return.
It's not that Mailata is playing at a Pro Bowl level. But every now and then, there are reminders of just how raw and promising he is at left tackle after never playing organized football before 2018.
3. Jalen Hurts, quarterback
The Eagles are only scratching the surface on how they can best use Hurts, the quarterback selected in the second round. But the wraps are slowing starting to come off.
Against the Ravens, Hurts had a 20-yard run, a 3-yard reception, and was a decoy on a play that sprang Miles Sanders on a 74-yard run. Against the Steelers on Oct. 11, Hurts threw and completed his first NFL pass.
He should continue to get more snaps, even when players like Sanders, Jackson and Jeffery return.
2. Travis Fulgham, wide receiver
There shouldn't be any situation where Fulgham sits behind Jackson or Jeffery. In three games, Fulgham has 284 yards receiving, by far the most on the team. The next closest, Greg Ward, has 191 yards in six games.
Fulgham has a touchdown catch in each of his three games, and nearly had another on a Hail Mary pass near the end of the first half. Fulgham said his skills as a former basketball player helps.
"Like for the Hail Mary, just box someone out and go up and get it," he said. "Baseball, too, tracking the ball in center field. All the sports helped me out to get where I’m at."
1. Jalen Reagor, wide receiver
Reagor is still on injured reserve after having surgery on his thumb last month. But in the two games he played, Reagor showed that he should not come off the field in favor of Jackson or Jeffery.
In the first game, Reagor had a 55-yard catch, still the Eagles' longest of the season. In the second, he had 4 catches for 41 yards. When Reagor returns in the coming weeks, he'll need time to relearn the offense and playing with Wentz.
The Eagles should make sure Reagor gets every opportunity to do so.
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.