Head coach Chip Kelly attempted to spur his nascent team Thursday, prior to the Eagles’ first preseason game: “For guys that are competing right now, the preseason has to be the same way. If that’s not your approach as a player, you’re going to get passed on by.”
Greg Salas assured no one overtook him Friday night.
In the midst of a raging sandstorm at the Eagles’ receiver position, Greg Salas was given a chance against the New England Patriots. With a clear path in front of him towards a top receiver position, Salas stole the show. Three clutch catches for 54 yards and a touchdown led all Eagles in receiving. Coupled with a 35-yard reception, Salas lit up the playing field on a cool Friday night in Philly.
In hindsight, it is clear that one such preseason performance will not sway head coach Chip Kelly. Kelly is a man too intelligent to be coaxed into decisions based on minuscule sample sizes. However, Salas has reminded us all of the talent that merited a third-round selection by the St. Louis Rams. His outing on Friday prompted a promotion, Tweeted Jeff McLane of CSNPhilly:
Greg Salas apparently moving up the depth chart. Getting some reps with the first team.
At 6-1, 211 lbs, Salas is physically stout. He is currently the third-tallest receiver on the team, behind Riley Cooper and Ifeanyi Momah. While Momah is a raw specimen, Salas boasts two years of NFL experience. Though he lacks the speed of DeSean Jackson, Salas’ actual in-game agility is not far off. In his first NFL season, Salas racked up 27 catches for 264 yards. His 9.8 yards per reception portray him as a viable option as a slot receiver.
In truth, Salas mirrors the playing style of injured receiver Jeremy Maclin. In build the pair are a mere inch and ten pounds apart. Maclin posses a slight edge in speed, but Salas has proven his game-speed is greater than a 4.53s 40–time. Last year, Maclin posted a 12.4 yards per reception statistic. Salas has already been running similar routes as Maclin did, from bubble screens to crossing routes. It is pragmatic to believe that, in an expanded role, Salas could mimic such a number. Should he be given “fourth receiver” playing time, Salas could easily produce around 10-11 yards per catch.
The fact that the first-team offense employed five different receivers in a quarter of play on Friday is startling. It goes to show how valuable skill-position depth is in Chip Kelly’s offense. Undoubtedly, Greg Salas will continue to receive playing time. Should he duplicate his Friday night performance, Kelly will take note. The way he is playing, the team will want another serving of Salas come Thursday night.