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Eagles Rookies Playing a Key Role in 5-1 Start

Rookies

For years, the Eagles would come under criticism for their lack of production from their rookies.

Not this year.

The Eagles are relying on several rookies to be regular contributors in all three phases: Offense, Defense, and Special Teams. From Derek Barnett to Jake Elliot, the Eagles are one of the only teams with a winning record relying on inexperienced players in important roles.

Let’s start with Barnett. The 16th overall pick is not popping off the stat sheet (7 tackles and half-a-sack), but he is consistently getting pressure. Barnett is still young (21) and needs to put on more weight. However, his technique is solid and he will contribute more as the season progresses.

Barnett’s fellow defensive teammate, Rasul Douglas, has been more active. Douglas has been receiving starting reps since Week Two and has shown why he taken with the 99th overall selection: He has six pass breakups and two interceptions so far. He is one pace to match Eric Allen’s record for most interceptions by an Eagles rookie (5). He may be one of the most pleasant surprises on this entire roster.

Offensively, the Eagles have received contributions mainly from undrafted running back Corey Clement. Clement has been the Eagles go-to back when they run out the clock and he’s picked up key first downs in victories over the Giants and Chargers. For someone who was labeled “entitled,” he has shown nothing but grit and handwork.

The biggest contributions the Eagles have received from their rookies is on Special Teams. Jake Elliot has been phenomenal since replacing Caleb Sturgis and already is setting team records for long field goals (he’s passed David Akers for most 50+ yard field goals in a season with three). It’s very likely the Eagles would not be 5-1 if not for him, and kudos for Howie Roseman for signing him off the Bengals practice squad (as opposed to bringing in a veteran kicker).

One player who has gone unnoticed in his contributions is Mack Hollins. Hollins is solid on Special Teams and is a big reason why the Eagles have been one of the best Special Teams units this season. He’s also caught five passes, all for first downs, and will likely see more time on offense.

The Eagles face the Redskins next Monday on Monday Night Football.

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