Jump to content

Is Cleveland playing his way onto Eagles' roster?


Recommended Posts

Is Cleveland playing his way onto Eagles' roster?

The wide receiver has been one of the biggest surprises in training camp

By Reuben Frank, Eagles Insider  Published August 16, 2023


He spent last year with one of the worst teams in football.

The Broncos went 5-12, finished last in the AFC West, had the worst offense in football, went 2-11 during one three-month stretch and got head coach Nathaniel Hackett fired before the end of his first season.

When the Broncos’ season ended, Tyrie Cleveland had two options: Sign up for another year with Denver or join the Eagles as they were about to start their playoff run.

Talk about a no-brainer.

"I felt like it was time for a fresh start,” Cleveland said. "So it was an easy decision.”

So on Jan. 14 — a few days after the Broncos’ season ended and a few days before the Eagles faced the Giants in the conference semifinals — Cleveland, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound wide receiver, quietly joined the Eagles’ practice squad.

Considering everything else going on at the time, Cleveland’s arrival barely caused a ripple. But over the next month, he got to practice with the Eagles, learn Nick Sirianni’s offense, adjust to the Eagles’ culture and spend Super Bowl week in Arizona with his new teammates.

"It's a blessing, coming from a losing team and then all of a sudden, wake up the next day, you're on a team that's going in the playoffs and we get to the Super Bowl,” he said. "I'm thankful for the opportunity. I'm grateful.

"It let me sit back and just absorb everything. I came in, right off the bat, I saw a lot of competing, attention to detail. That's how you win games and lose games. Just coming in, just sitting back, learning the offense, learning the system, learning the culture, just grasping it all in.”

The Eagles signed Cleveland to a futures contract after the Super Bowl, and he’s been with the team all summer. And he’s been one of the biggest surprises of training camp.

Cleveland has caught everything.

He’s been one of the best wide receivers in camp, and while that doesn’t guarantee him anything, the daily displays of diving catches, leaping snags and lunging grabs have been impressive.

It was Cleveland’s highlight-reel TD reception from Marcus Mariota with Lorenzo Burns in tight coverage late in the final drill of joint practices on Tuesday that sent the entire Eagles sideline into a frenzy.

But he’s been doing that every day.

"I set a goal for myself, to use a Muhammad Ali quote, ‘Don't count the days, make the days count,’" Cleveland said. "So every day I've been trying to make the days count, getting better each and every day, working on my weaknesses, and continue to just show up. Show up and make plays.”

Cleveland, originally the Broncos’ 7th-round pick in 2020, caught just eight passes in three seasons in Denver.

He showed up in a big way in the Eagles' preseason opener against the Ravens, with five catches for 68 yards, including a 27-yarder on Tanner McKee’s first NFL pass.

"I feel like he did a great job attacking the deep ball, reacting late,” McKee said. "That’s one thing I feel is almost underestimated in the eyes of some people that don’t play football, just not reacting too early for the defense to be able to react, but right when that ball is a foot away to just go up and snag it. I feel like he did a really good job of that. 

"We've been working on things like that during and after practice, and it’s great when you’re able to apply something that you’ve been working on for a while.” 

Cleveland played 64 out of a possible 75 snaps Saturday. The most he played in a regular-season or preseason game in Denver was 31 in a win over the Texans last September.  

In his two preseasons with the Broncos (there were no preseason games in 2020), he was targeted once and never caught a pass.

So he’s clearly getting an opportunity here he didn’t get in Denver.

"Saturday gave me a lot of confidence just getting back into it,” he said. "I haven’t had that many snaps since college.”

Realistically, Cleveland is still fighting pretty extreme odds to make the roster. After DeVonta Smith, A.J. Brown and Quez Watkins, you have Olamide Zaccheaus and punt returner Britain Covey. 

Zaccheaus hasn’t had a great camp, but would the Eagles keep Cleveland over a guy who had over 500 receiving yards last year? And the Eagles appear to be locked into Covey as the punt returner, although he (and Watkins) are currently sidelined with hamstrings.

Then there’s guys like Joseph Ngata, who’s also had a very good preseason, and veteran Greg Ward, who catches everything.

It’s a crowded room, but Cleveland is just happy to be a part of it.

"I’m just thankful I got the opportunity to come in and be with this organization,” he said. "I'm very comfortable. I'm a blessed guy.”


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...