On Wednesday, the Eagles brought in a familiar face to help coach the wide receivers during training camp. 11-year NFL veteran Jason Avant will be joining the coaching staff during camp as a part of the league’s Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Fellowship.
He, along with new wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, will be pivotal to the development of the young group of wideouts on the Eagles roster.
Avant spent eight seasons in Philly, establishing himself as one of the most reliable third down threats in the league. He mainly operated out of the slot, but he wasn’t your prototypical slot guy. Avant never relied on his quickness or speed to beat defensive backs, he was a route running technician who always did the little things correctly.
When we look at the current batch of wideouts on the roster, one thing they don’t lack is speed and quickness. In a sit down with the Eagles website, Avant emphasized just how important the little things are when it comes to running routes in the NFL. “It’s just not about speed and movement, and they have plenty of that talent,” he said. “How can I help them get off the press? How can I assist Aaron with his program?”
He continued by saying, “Even if you’re in a walkthrough, maybe I can help the young guys if I see something that they’re doing. The biggest thing for a young receiver is being able to get off press (at the line of scrimmage). That’s the hardest thing to do in this league, because the defensive backs are so patient. I’ve shown them some moves already of how to get off press, some footwork things. They have the ability and the talent.”
Jalen Reagor, John Hightower and Quez Watkins are all entering the league during unparalleled circumstances. Usually coaches have an entire offseason to work with rookies and get them up to speed. Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented all face-to-face interactions with coaches and players.
Having a guy like Avant helping these young guys get acclimated to the NFL game is huge for their early development. Especially now that Marquise Goodwin has opted-out of this year. This trio of rookie wideouts will be called upon earlier than expected.
But, what excites me the most about Avant’s arrival on the coaching staff is his experience working out of the slot. Greg Ward figures to be the starting slot receiver this year. He was the saving grace for the Eagles wide receiver position last season, and he’s still pretty raw as an NFL receiver.
Ward clearly has the talent to be an effective slot receiver for years to come, and learning from arguably the best slot receiver in recent Eagles history should only elevate his game to new levels.
There really isn’t a downside to having Avant on the coaching staff. Fans should be excited to see how his teachings translate to the field.