The Philadelphia Eagles first training camp practice on Saturday almost ended on a scary note. Rookie safety Ed Reynolds and rookie wide receiver Josh Huff, who had just stretched out for a catch, inadvertently bumped into one another and remained on the ground after contact was made. Fortunately no major injuries came of this incident. Huff assured media after practice that he was OK and that Reynolds just "caught [him] in his rib" a little bit.
Huff, who spent time as a slot receiver during his college football days at Oregon, certainly isn't unfamiliar to contact. He's not one to shy away from it either.
"I'm not afraid to go over the middle," the Eagles rookie pass catcher said. "If that's what it takes to get my team down the field, then that's what I'm going to do. If they need me to go deep and catch a couple of deeps balls, then that's what I'm going to do. So whether it's going across the middle, whether it's catching balls underneath, or whether it's going deep, I'm going to do my best to make this team better."
It was easy to see why Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was so excited to be reunited with his former college player when Philadelphia selected him in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Huff's talent and versatility gives Kelly just yet another weapon for an already dangerous offense. There's no doubt that Huff will be, sooner or later, will be part of the committee that replaces the offensive production from former Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson. Huff actually mentioned Jackson, whom the Eagles released this offseason, as one of the receivers he models his game after.
"Just growing up I've always watched guys like Steve Smith, DeSean Jackson, Andre Johnson, Anquan Boldin," Huff explained. "Those are all physical receivers. DeSean Jackson, a more elusive guy, is quick on the field and he's fast. So those are the kind of guys I try to role my game after.
Huff may not have Jackson's speed -- Huff ran a 4.51 at the 2014 NFL Combine compared to Jackson's 4.35 -- but Huff seems to share his big play ability. In Huff's final season at Oregon, he recorded at least one reception of 20 or more yards in every game. The Eagles, as a unit, broke the NFL record for 20+ yard plays in 2013 with a total of 98. But big plays aren't the only reason Kelly is excited to be have Huff. It's also because of the rookie's special teams contribution.
"I definitely enjoy [returning kicks]. Special teams is one of the biggest parts of the game," said Huff. "It can change the whole game. Even with a 40 yard return it can change the whole game and change the momentum. So playing on special teams, or being a returner is definitely something I want to do for this team.
Given that there's already a number of weapons on the offensive side of the ball (LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Brent Celek, Zach Ertz, Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, etc.) it's quite possible that Huff's best opportunity to contribute will be on special teams during his rookie season. Even that means a limited offense role to start out, it seems like it's something Huff is ready to embrace.