There was an odd level of excitement when the Philadelphia Eagles first signed former Boston College wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah in March 2013. It was clear that Momah, an undrafted free agent rookie who had missed the entirety of his 2012 season, was a camp body addition that the Eagles were taking a flyer on. Still, some were intrigued by his size (6-7, 239) and speed (4.45 40-yard dash) combination.
Momah went on to have a really unimpressive training camp performance in 2013. The big receiver couldn't get separation and often looked too slow off the line of scrimmage. He was nearly invisible in the team's preseason games. Momah's lackluster summer prevented him from earning any kind of NFL job last year. He didn't even earn practice squad consideration from an NFL team.
After the 2013 season ended, the Eagles reunited with Momah on a reserve/futures contract. Momah, who said he also interest from the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots, decided a return Philadelphia was his best opportunity. Momah's return got off to a good start by showing improvement during the team's spring practices. This improvement has carried over into the Eagles' training camp so far and it's something both Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur have noticed.
When asked about what Momah needs to do to earn a roster spot, Shurmur replied: "I think he needs to continue to improve. He's certainly benefited from playing with the ones. He's made some plays out there in practice, and he's made a huge amount of improvement from a year ago. It's night and day in terms of how much better a football player he is. So we just hope he can continue on that trend, I guess."
Kelly didn't praise Momah as effusively as Shurmur did but he still seemed encourage with the receiver's progress. "I don't know about the word ‘way' but he's ahead of where he was last year. But he has improved. I think it's just a better understanding of what's going on. I think you forget he missed his senior year in college because of the injury, so he was coming off a real long point where he didn't play football, so I think he's just getting back out there, getting familiar. Obviously, we could notice an improvement with him when we saw during the spring, during the offseason program and I think he's done the same thing here. So he's put himself in position to compete for a job."
It's true that Momah has made some plays. Most notably he caught a deep pass over standout cornerback Brandon Boykin. Boykin (5-10) is noticeably smaller than Momah, but playing up to his size is something that Momah failed to do as a rookie and he admitted as much.
"Just realizing how big I am," Momah said, when asked about the improvement in his game. "Last year I was kind of playing down just as a regular receiver. But now I'm kind of trying to use my size."
Despite Momah's improvement, his roster chances still don't look optimistic at this point. The Eagles already have Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, and Brad Smith locked in. Even if they keep a sixth receiver, Momah would have to prove he's worth keeping over Jeff Maehl and Arrelious Benn. Theoretical potential won't be enough to earn Momah a roster spot if last year's Eagles cut down day was any indication. Special teams matters most when it comes to the spots at the bottom of the roster and that's where Momah will need to make his mark in order to find a spot on the final 53. A more realistic projection for Momah is that he will find a way to at least earn a practice squad offer this year.