3rd-rounder Josh Huff reunites with Chip Kelly

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3rd-rounder Josh Huff reunites with Chip Kelly

For the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, the Eagles have drafted two wide receivers in the first three rounds of the draft.

After releasing DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, who had the top two reception totals of any Eagles receivers over the past two decades, the Eagles moved to replace them on Friday.

They began the day by selecting Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews in the second round (see story) and finished it by adding Oregon receiver Josh Huff in the third.

“It’s lovely to be reunited with him,” Huff said. “When I saw that 215 come up on my phone, I started to cry. It’s a dream come true for me. Can’t wait to get out there and come to work.”

‪Huff (see bio), the 86th player taken in this year’s draft, is the first Oregon player Chip Kelly has drafted since he left the Ducks to become the Eagles’ head coach last year.

Huff said Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost told him recently the Eagles would draft him in the third round.

“Obviously, I know him extremely well,” Kelly said. “Outstanding young man, great position versatility. Josh played every wide receiver position at Oregon, played a little running back early in his career, he’s returned kicks, he’s an outstanding special teams player.

“He’s a physical football player, a shade under six feet, he can run, he’s got a nasty presence about him. Really excited to see if we can add him to the group.”

Huff said the fact that he was drafted by his college coach means he’ll have to work that much harder to show he’s not just here because of who he played for in college.

“Go in and prove myself and prove that the reason he drafted me isn’t just because I played for him,” he said.

This is the first time since 1990 the Eagles have taken two wide receivers within the first three rounds. That year, they drafted Mike Bellamy in the second round and Freddie Barnett in the third -- then added Calvin Williams in the fifth.

And there could be a third on Saturday, when the Eagles have picks 101, 141, 162 and 237.

"We're not averse to taking another one tomorrow, either,” Kelly said.

But even though the Eagles went into the draft with only Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper on the roster as experienced wide receivers and this was considered the strongest wide receiver draft ever, Kelly said the Eagles weren’t necessarily focused on taking wideouts with two of their first three picks.

It just worked out that way.

“We’re following exactly the way [the board] was,” Kelly said. “It’s staring you in the face. He was the highest-ranked guy we had. … You just keep picking the names off the board and look up, who’s the highest-ranked guy?”

‪Huff caught 144 passes for 2,366 yards at Oregon and had a breakthrough season last year with 62 receptions for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns. He averaged 18.4 yards per catch last year -- one of the top-20 figures in Division I -- and 16.4 in his career.

‪Huff also returned kickoffs as a freshman, averaging 24.7 yards on 23 returns.

It wasn’t until his senior year that Huff even had 500 receiving yards in a season. But he made a huge jump this past year.

“Just hard work, dedication and just staying patient and waiting my turn,” he said. “I had a great offensive team at Oregon, a lot of off weapons and I had a great quarterback in Marcus Mariota.”

‪The Eagles went into the third round with picks 83 and 86 but traded No. 83 -- acquired Thursday from the Browns -- to the Texans in exchange for two Saturday picks -- No. 101 overall in the fourth round and No. 141 overall in the fifth round.

Kelly said he considers Huff a potentially outstanding special teams player as well as receiving depth.

“He’s got an opportunity to play in the National Football League and he’s graduated from college,” Kelly said. “He’s a great young man.”

Kelly said he removed himself from early talks about Huff, since he coached him in college, and he didn’t want his relationship with his former recruit to shade his opinions.

“I try to divorce myself from that situation,” he said.

Doug Pederson won't commit, leaning towards activating Nelson Agholor

Doug Pederson won't commit, leaning towards activating Nelson Agholor

For whatever reason, Doug Pederson refused to commit to it on Friday morning, but it certainly seems like Nelson Agholor is going to be active this Sunday. 

When asked about Agholor, Pederson cited Jordan Matthews’ ankle injury -- Matthews is questionable heading into the game – as a reason he’s “keeping [Agholor] in the mix.”

Does “in the mix” mean active? 

“Yeah, there’s a good chance,” Pederson said. “I have to find out how Jordan does today and see really. Just getting on Nelson, his mind has been great, his attitude has been really good, he’s been working really hard. So right now, nothing says not keeping him up, keeping him out. Everything is leaning toward keeping him active.”

Agholor was a healthy scratch against the Packers on Monday Night Football after a dreadful performance against Seattle, after which he admitted he was in his own head. All last week, Pederson said it was a possibility he’d keep Agholor down and then he did. Agholor watched from the sideline as the Eagles lost 27-13.  

When pressed on Friday about his failure to commit to playing Agholor, Pederson said he didn’t want to rush into anything, because something unexpected could come up. 

“If I can wait until the last second, I’m going to wait until the last second and just see,” he said.  

On the last question of Friday’s press conference, Pederson seemed to possibly tip his hand. He was asked if there are things he can do as a play-caller, if Agholor plays, to build his confidence, perhaps getting him the ball early in the game. 

“Yeah, there’s always way to do that, obviously, play call, play design, specifically to get him going in the game, could help,” Pederson said. “Get him the ball early. It might just be a screen, just getting him the ball quick, let him get settled into the game. Those are all things I consider, especially putting the openers together, the first 15 (plays), let’s say, focusing on certain guys, wanting to get them touches early. And he’s definitely one of those guys.”

The Eagles have elected to keep just four receivers active on game days all season, while some other teams keep five up. Pederson said the reason for that is special teams. Instead of having a fifth receiver, the Eagles keep up core special teams players like reserve safety Terrence Brooks or reserve corner C.J. Smith. 

With Matthews’ injury and with Agholor’s situation, Pederson might have to consider activating five for the first time this season on Sunday. 

“That’s something, obviously, I have to consider,” Pederson said. “It really depends on today and how well Jordan comes out of today. And see where he’s at. Again, it’s a short week and getting back out there yesterday, (Thursday) was, I don’t want to say it hurt him, it was good to put him out there. The decision could come from how well he does or doesn’t come out of today.”

Eagles Injury Update: Ryan Mathews out; Jordan Matthews questionable

Eagles Injury Update: Ryan Mathews out; Jordan Matthews questionable

Running back Ryan Mathews (knee) and right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) have been ruled out for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati, while Jordan Matthews (ankle) is questionable. 

Mathews and Vaitai will both miss their second consecutive weeks after suffering MCL sprains against Seattle. Vaitai’s was immediately considered more serious, but Mathews isn’t back yet either. 

“He’s doing better,” head coach Doug Pederson said about Mathews. “He was actually able to do more running and more change of direction stuff, but we’re going to keep him out of this football game obviously on a short week.”

Meanwhile, Jordan Matthews missed practice on Wednesday before returning on Thursday in limited fashion. Matthews was visibly struggling with some ankle discomfort during the open portion of practice. He was not on the field at the start of practice on Friday.

“Jordan’s doing good,” Pederson said. “He got a little sore yesterday. We kept him on a limited basis yesterday and we’ll try to get more out of him today and see where he’s at. We’ll be outside, so he’ll get a chance on the grass.” 

Matthews hurt his ankle against the Packers on Monday night. X-rays came back negative, but his attempt to return to the game was unsuccessful. When he left the game, the Eagles were down to just three receivers – Dorial Green-Beckham, Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner. 

With Matthews’ injury, will Pederson think about keeping five receivers active -- which would include Nelson Agholor -- for the first time this season? 

“That’s something, obviously, I have to consider,” he said. “It really depends on today and how well Jordan comes out of today. And see where he’s at. Again, it’s a short week and getting back out there yesterday, (Thursday) was, I don’t want to say it hurt him, it was good to put him out there. The decision could come from how well he does or doesn’t come out of today.”