May 23, 2024   5 MIN READ

Deep Trouble

Thin Birds WR Depth On Display At OTA


As the Eagles close the book on their first set of three OTA practices and prepare next week’s three sessions, there were several pertinent takeaways from Wednesday’s session.

While many topics were written about in Wednesday’s observations, other storylines that warrant a closer look pertain to depth at a specific offensive position and a refreshing perspective from a team leader.

Joseph Ngata

ITB PHOTO: Second-year pro Joseph Ngata does a drill in front of Eagles WRs coach Aaron Moorehead (right).

Step Up For Ngata

It only took DeVonta Smith’s absence and DeVante Parker’s stunning retirement announcement to underscore the Eagles’ depth insufficiency at wide receiver – even if Parker wasn’t a lock to make it – on display Wednesday’s OTA session.

Veteran newcomer Parris Campbell garnered first-team looks as the slot receiver while second-year pro Joseph Ngata, an undrafted prospect, started opposite A.J. Brown on the outside.

On Thursday, the team signed veteran John Ross off the scrap heap.

The next batch of personnel groupings included third-year pro Britain Covey, sixth-round rookie Johnny Wilson and Jacob Harris, a 27-year-old Futures deal signing.  Shaq Davis (another Futures signing) worked in as well.

The issue is that the aforementioned have combined for five career receptions.

While Covey, who missed a significant portion of training camp last summer due to a hamstring injury, figures to get a long look offensively in the slot this summer, the next few months will be crucial for Ngata, vying for an outside role on a largely vacant depth chart.

Originally signed as a rookie free agent coming out of the 2023 NFL Draft, Ngata quickly emerged as a camp darling, regularly turning heads and legitimately pushing for a roster spot before ultimately petering out during the final leg of evaluation.

The Clemson product resurfaced on the Eagles’ practice squad, where he remained for the entirety of his rookie season.

In preparation for his sophomore campaign, Ngata returned to Bommarito Performance Systems in Florida, a place he said offered the right setup and preparation for last year’s draft.

An average day for Ngata consisted of training from 8 a.m. to noon, with specific focus heading into Year 2.

“I’m just trying to build my athleticism,” Ngata told Inside The Birds back in March. “I feel like athleticism, you can keep working at it. That’s my main focus right now.”

But even before the recent outside receiver shortage, Ngata conceivably had a pathway to the 53-man roster following the free-agent departures of receivers Quez Watkins and Olamide Zaccheaus.

The big-bodied wideout isn’t getting ahead of himself, instead focusing on the here and now.

“I’m just trying to take it day-by-day,” Ngata said. “Obviously, that’s the situation, but that doesn’t mean anything if I’m not putting the work in. So, I just gotta put the work in and just focus. And then things are gonna fall in place how they’re supposed to fall in place.”

Leader Of The (Corner)Backs

A veteran of 12 NFL seasons, Darius Slay has obviously experienced his fair share of OTAs.

But rather than skipping the voluntary workouts and staying away until mandatory minicamp to preserve his body, the reigning team captain was front and center Wednesday, taking first-team reps during 7-on-7s.

After, Slay explained why it was so critical to be present during the onboarding process.

“Just because I want to compete,” Slay said. “I want the young guys to see my face and understand what 12 years looks like and how I got to 12 years. But of course, I’m a family man, I’ve got kids. My daughter does a lot of stuff. She does sports, so I wanna make sure I’m there for that.

“But at the end of the day, I do got a job. And I wanna reach out to other people. I take care of my family first, for sure, but these two are my extended family, as well. So, I make sure I plant the seed and let these guys know I’m here, too, as well. I’m making sure I’m not just a call away from them, any time.”

Slay was the lone elder statesman on hand from his position room, as running mate James Bradberry was not present, though Slay confirmed he’s been in contact with Bradberry and said his teammate is in “good spirits.”

Slay added that both he and Bradberry are in lockstep when it comes to mentoring the Eagles’ two young draftees, Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean.

The energy and passion shown from the 33-year-old cornerback at the podium was palpable, demonstrating why so many up-comers hold him in a class of his own.

Slay, who said he feels like he’s still 25, displayed his trademark enthusiasm for the new season.

Doubling down from many of the remarks he’s made in recent years, Slay said he’s dedicated to paving the way for younger players, preparing them for the future, and being there for them regardless of circumstance – especially pivotal characteristics in terms of setting the foundation for the future of the Eagles’ secondary.

“That’s the main thing, to teach them how to be a pro,” he said. “I was talking to them today, just to let them know, ‘I’m always here for y’all boys, man. Anything you need from me, I got ya.’

“I’m here to give them the blueprint of everything to help them make sure they succeed at this level. That’s my job to do, that’s what I’ve always been brought up to do.”

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for

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