Greg Salas had three catches for 54 yards in the Eagles' 31-22 loss to the Pats on Friday. (AP)
When you’re Greg Salas, these aren’t the plays you want to make. They’re the plays you have to make.
Salas has climbed his way from obscurity into the thick of a fluid Eagles’ wide receiver picture over the past couple weeks, first with a couple outstanding practices against the Patriots and then Friday night with an outstanding performance in the preseason opener.
Most notably, his 35-yard circus catch from fifth-string quarterback G.J. Kinne late in the 31-22 loss to the Patriots at the Linc was the kind of play an unknown wide receiver has to make to get noticed.
“Every time you step out on the field it’s an opportunity to show the coaches – and show all the other teams if it doesn’t work out here -- what you can do,” Salas said. “That’s how you play. Every minute you’re out here it counts.”
Thanks to season-ending knee injuries to Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn, the Eagles are searching for receiving depth. We know DeSean Jackson is No. 1, we know Jason Avant is the slot, and we know Damaris Johnson and Riley Cooper will be here, but after that it’s anybody’s guess.
And Salas certainly helped his cause on Friday, with three catches for 54 yards, all in the game’s last 17 minutes.
“He’s one of those guys that just keeps showing up,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s that guy that whenever he gets his opportunity, he seems to step up. That’s an important thing, because depth at wide receiver is a huge question for us right now.
“But you have a guy that has a little experience and that showed today. He kind of has a knack for making plays.”
Salas played six games for the Rams in 2011 and caught 27 passes, including an 8-for-77 in a loss to the Packers at Lambeau Field in mid-October.
A few weeks later, he broke his ankle and missed the rest of the season. He played a game for the Patriots last year before getting released. The Eagles claimed him and kept him around the rest of the year, although he didn’t get into a game.
And the last few weeks, he’s gone from being just another obscure receiver to a guy who’s really making a case for himself when it’s time to make final roster decisions.
“It is a big confidence boost for me just to go out here and show the team I belong and trying to earn a roster spot on this team,” he said. “That’s most important to me.
“I have plenty of friends on [the Patriots] who congratulated me afterwards. It was great to get out there and play against them. It was great to get out there and play, period.
“It doesn’t really mean much until it’s the regular season, but it feels great to get out there and make some plays.”
Salas caught a seven-yarder from Matt Barkley late in the third quarter and then a 12-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.
But his highlight moment came in the game’s final seconds, when he skied and made a one-handed, off-balance snag for a 35-yard gain.
Kinne, working behind the third-string offensive line, looked left, then right, where he spotted Salas a step ahead of cornerback Logan Ryan, the rookie from Rutgers out of Eastern High School in Voorhees.
He fired, and at first it looked like the ball would go over Salas’ head, but Salas snared it with his right hand as he leaped, then brought it into his body while tumbling to the ground at the 2-yard line.
“It was just a double post and they were playing Cover 2,” he said. “I knew the safety would probably take the first post so I knew to just get wide and keep running and if G.J. saw me he’d put it out there. He threw it out there and I got it. I went up there and snagged it.”
Salas wound up as the game’s leading receiver. All of which means exactly nothing. Except another week of opportunities to get noticed.
“He’s been making plays, and that’s what you want from a guy like that,” Barkley said. “He’s shown he can make those deep catches and extend and kind of turn and go get a thrown a ball.
“He played well, real happy for him. I’m rooting for everyone on our team, but he’s been working really hard, and you are pulling for a guy like him.”
We’ve heard a lot this summer about promising rookie receivers like Russell Shepard and Ifeanyi Momah, but Salas has experience and size and on Friday night he was the one who made plays when they were there to be made.
“Every time you get a chance to get on the field, you’re building your resume,” Kelly said. “He keeps building his resume and showing up, and everybody will take notice of him.”
The Eagles will be back at practice on Sunday afternoon, and it will be interesting to see if Salas moves up the ladder and gets some first-team reps at practice and some earlier playing time in preseason game No. 2 Thursday night against the Panthers.
But if he keeps playing the way he did Friday night, he’s going to be on somebody’s roster.
“Every time the ball’s thrown to you, you’ve got to try to make a play on it,” Salas said. “Those opportunities you get, you have to get the most of them and I was able to capitalize [Friday] night.”