- WR Quez Watkins and CB Craig James were activated from injured reserve to the roster.
- DB Grayland Arnold was signed from the practice squad to the roster.
- TE Jason Croom and DB Elijah Riley were elevated from the practice squad.
Note that the Eagles had three open roster spots to work with since Brett Toth doesn’t count towards the limit yet. The team has an exemption for him while he goes through COVID-19 testing.
Let’s sort through this on a player-by-player basis.
Watkins is set to make his NFL debut on Sunday after missing the first four games. We could see the 2020 sixth-round pick get involved in returning punts and/or kicks in addition to having a role in the offense. Watkins brings a much-needed speed element to the offense with both DeSean Jackson and Jalen Reagor missing this week’s game. Watkins also seemed to have a good connection with Carson Wentz during some training camp practices.
With this activation, the Eagles are heading into Sunday’s game with the following wide receivers: John Hightower, Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Travis Fulgham, and Watkins. Lots of youth there. It’ll be interesting to see who steps up against the Steelers. Maybe Watkins can bust a big play or two?
James, a co-captain on special teams, is back after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 1. The Eagles are fortunate to be getting him back with the special teams unit losing the likes of Rudy Ford and T.J. Edwards. James’ return also gives the Eagles more cornerback depth among Darius Slay, Jalen Mills, Cre’Von LeBlanc, and Nickell Robey-Coleman.
The Eagles couldn’t elevate Arnold from the practice squad again without subjecting him to waivers. So they instead opted to sign him to the roster proper. The undrafted rookie free agent will be counted on to play special teams in addition to providing safety depth. The Eagles needed more of the latter with Mills now playing corner, Ford getting hurt, and both Rodney McLeod and Marcus Epps missing some practice time this week.
Elevating Croom gives the Eagles an experienced third tight end behind Zach Ertz and Richard Rodgers. The coaching staff isn’t ready to count on receiver-turned-tight end Hakeem Butler to play just yet; he was a healthy scratch in Week 4. Butler will also likely be inactive for this week’s game. He’s the upside play while Croom is the veteran stopgap. [Read more about Croom here.]
This marks the first time Riley has been elevated to the roster. The undrafted rookie free agent from Army had some nice moments in training camp. He’ll contribute on special teams in addition to providing more safety depth.