Greg Ward assuming key veteran role in Eagles’ WR room

Dave Zangaro
·3 min read

Greg Ward assuming key veteran role in Eagles’ WR room originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

In early September, Greg Ward Jr. seemed uncomfortable about being labeled as a veteran leader by some of his younger teammates.

After all, Ward didn’t get called up from the practice squad until 2019 and, besides, the Eagles still had DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery — with many more years of experience — in the receiver room.

“I don’t think that I’m the leader of the room,” Ward said on Sept. 2. “I just ask a lot of questions because I’m curious. I speak up whenever I have a question about a route or a play or split or whatever it is. I’m asking questions all the time. I’m picking [Jackson’s] brain to see how I can be a better player.”

Maybe Ward doesn’t consider himself a leader in the receiver room, but he’s becoming a leader on the field.

And moments in back-to-back weeks against the Ravens and the Giants prove it.

This was the third play of the Ravens game and rookie John Hightower just simply dropped a beautiful deep ball from Carson Wentz. Hightower was understandably upset but Ward wouldn’t let him wallow.

Ward picked him up immediately and told him to keep his head in it. That would ultimately pay off as Hightower caught a 50-yard bomb later in the game.

And it also paid off against the Giants on Thursday, when Hightower caught a 59-yard pass in the fourth quarter to help spark the Eagles’ comeback. But as Hightower was celebrating, he tossed the football away. Ward realized that the Eagles were fighting against a running clock, so watch him run after the ball.

Ward helped the official get the ball to the line to spot it and the Eagles saved some valuable seconds. That’s just great situational awareness from a former quarterback.

 A little later on the drive, Ward caught a 3-yard touchdown pass and the Eagles went on to win 22-21.

Jackson and Jeffery have been injured most of this season, so while they’re still in the building, Ward has been the veteran on the field. Check out the ages of the Eagles’ other receivers:

Greg Ward: 25

Travis Fulgham: 25

John Hightower: 24

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside: 23

Quez Watkins: 21 

Jalen Reagor: 21

Sure, Fulgham is just a couple months younger than Ward but has significantly less experience playing football. Ward has a ton of experience and a lot of it was as a QB, so he really understands the game.

Ward’s numbers aren’t incredible this year, but he’s been very consistent. He has now played as many games this year as he did after getting called up in 2019.

2019: 7 games, 3 starts, 40 targets, 28 catches, 254 yards, 1 TD, 18 first downs

2020: 7 games, 5 starts, 40 targets, 29 catches, 233 yards, 3 TDs, 13 first downs

None of that is eye-popping and he’ll probably never be a really explosive target out of the slot, but Ward is good, he’s reliable, he’s smart, he’s the kind of guy the coaching staff can trust. And, whether he likes it or not, he’s the kind of guy his younger teammates can look up to.

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