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Watkins embracing the chip on his shoulder at Eagles camp


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Watkins embracing the chip on his shoulder at Eagles camp

Quez Watkins is healthy and ready to prove himself at Eagles training camp this summer

By Dave Zangaro  Published 2 hours ago


Quez Watkins is finally feeling healthy after playing the second half of last season through an AC joint sprain. From a physical standpoint, his shoulder is fine.

Metaphorically speaking, there’s still a chip on it.

"Most definitely,” Watkins said after Tuesday’s practice. "I always keep a chip on my shoulder. Coming off of last season, I definitely have a big one.”

He probably should. Because Watkins has already admitted that he didn’t play up to his own standard in 2022. It was a forgettable season for the former sixth-round pick, even before an unfortunate drop in the Super Bowl LVII loss.

As far as the Super Bowl goes, Watkins is just trying to put it behind him.

"It’s in the past so it stays in the past,” he said. "We’re working on now and the future, honestly. Focus on now. It’s a different season and it’s a different me.”

Everyone knew after the addition of A.J. Brown last offseason, Watkins was going to have less opportunity in the offense. The Eagles just wanted him to make the most of the opportunity he did get, and Watkins failed to do that.

In 2022, Watkins caught 33 passes on 51 targets for 354 yards and 3 touchdowns in the regular season. But he also lost a crucial fumble and dropped three passes.

This offseason, the Eagles signed veteran Olamide Zaccheaus, presumably to push Watkins in 2023.

"Competition. This is the big leagues,” Watkins said about the addition of Zaccheaus. "You gotta play ball. It’s not about what you did last year or the year before. It’s what you’re doing now.”

Watkins’ shoulder finally healed and he began doing pushups just a couple weeks before the start of OTAs. During the spring, head coach Nick Sirianni was asked to single out one player having a good OTA period and he uncharacteristically named a player. He named Watkins.

Some of that could have been a rebuttal to noise from fans after Watkins’ disappointing season. Some of that could have been Sirianni’s showing confidence in one of his players. But some of it also could have been because Watkins really was good this spring.

"We know he has a lot of talent, and I’m excited about that,” Sirianni said in June. "I really like the way he’s gone about his business because he can’t control anything but what he can control, and he can’t control what other people think about him. He can’t control anything like that. Can’t control things that may have happened to him last year, the opportunities that he got last year or did not get. All he can control is how he works, and I’ve really been excited about how he’s gone about his business.”

While it’s no secret that the Eagles’ passing offense is going to run through Brown, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert no matter what, they’d probably like to be able to rely on the fourth option. For now, that’s still Watkins.

This summer, Watkins is having a solid training camp and he had a spectacular day on Sunday, reminding everybody that he does have NFL talent. And he has the type of speed that still matters for the Eagles’ offense.

Watkins is trying to pull off a balancing act of sorts this summer. He wants to use his struggles and the reactions to those struggles last season as motivation. But he also wants to look to the future.

How is he managing to do both?

"Honestly, being one with yourself and being at peace with yourself,” Watkins said. "And not caring about what the outside people say and having confidence in yourself. That’s what I have right now.”

The former sixth-round pick is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie deal and admitted that the upcoming contract year is on his mind "a little bit.” He was honest about that.

The Eagles have shown trust in Watkins in recent years and again this summer. While they brought in Zaccheaus as a free agent, it’s pretty clear that Watkins is still the WR3 in this offense.

And he seemingly entered into training camp with a healthy mindset.

"Honestly, playing my brand of football,” Watkins said. "Being me.”

We’ll found out soon enough what that means.


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