The Eagles made a big move up to the second overall pick in the draft, and they selected a running back. But as much as many fans would like to believe in the running back, that was not the pick that they made. DEVONTÁ SMITH was the pick. Smith has been nothing short of a revelation in his rookie year, and has quickly become one of the more popular players in the locker room. How did Smith become such a popular player so quickly? The answer is simple, he has taken the lead in keeping himself out of harm’s way, and has made sure he is not directly responsible for any more injuries.
As the Philadelphia Eagles prepare for their third preseason game against the Carolina Panthers, it’s natural to wonder if the team’s first start of the preseason will be the last. The third preseason game is the last one to be held before the regular season begins. The last game of the preseason used to be known as an equalizer between the starters and the backups, but in recent years it has been treated more or less as a dress rehearsal for the regular season.
The Eagles haven’t had a player go down with an injury in the preseason since they traded quarterback Nick Foles to the Rams in exchange for Sam Bradford. (That was back in the 2015 preseason, which means they have had 23 weeks without an injury.) Foles had a knee injury that kept him out of most of the 2014 season, and Bradford has had shoulder issues in the past. (He has not played in a preseason game in his career.)
In his first season with the Philadelphia Eagles, DeVonta Smith is under a lot of pressure.
In this year’s NFL Draft, the Eagles selected Smith with the 10th overall selection, moving up a few places to get him before the New York Giants got on the clock. The Eagles made a bold move by moving up for Smith, since they are in the midst of totally rebuilding their squad after a disappointing 4-12 season.
Few clubs begin their rebuilding process with a wide receiver.
So far, Smith has given Eagles supporters enough to be concerned about in terms of him becoming the fundamental building piece that the club so badly needs.
DeVonta Smith has already been injured twice in training camp for the Eagles.
DeVonta Smith hobbled off the field with a limp. His right ankle is being examined.
August 22, 2021 — Zach Berman (@ZBerm)
Smith’s size was the greatest question mark going into the 2021 NFL Draft. Despite his 6-foot height, Smith weighs about 170 pounds. While Smith’s weight (or lack thereof) was never an issue during his Heisman-winning Alabama career, the NFL is a totally different beast.
There are a lot of NFL defensive backs that are over 6 feet tall and weigh over 220 pounds. Smith is going to feel it if he takes a hit from an aggressive DB like that.
Smith has already been injured twice in training camp. During one of the Eagles’ first workouts, he injured his knee, forcing him to miss a few weeks. Then, just days after his preseason debut, he hobbled off the field with an ankle injury during an indoor practice.
Smith was able to heal from both injuries (the ankle problem did not prevent him from playing), but each occurrence threw the Eagles’ fan base into a frenzy. It’s something they’ll have to get accustomed to.
The Eagles must get used to injury scares.
The Eagles have a long-running joke about having the worst medical staff in the NFL, and based on injury statistics over the last several years, that joke is mostly accurate. Philadelphia is prone to injuries both before and during the season, placing a lot of pressure on the team’s backups and practice squad players.
When you combine this with Smith’s little stature, you have a formula for catastrophe.
Even if Smith was selected to a club with a historically strong medical department, his below-average bodyweight would cause him to sustain injuries at a greater rate than his peers. Avoiding large impacts or nasty collisions is just too difficult.
Smith’s joints and ligaments will be more vulnerable to hits and collisions than the typical NFL receiver because he lacks muscle and body fat to cushion them.
DeVonta Smith still has a chance to have a good rookie season.
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images/DeVonta Smith)
This isn’t to suggest Smith won’t have a successful debut year. In fact, he has a good chance of finishing 2021 as the Eagles’ top pass-catcher. They invested a high draft choice on him and will throw the ball to him often.
As a result, Smith must begin to place a greater focus on self-preservation and avoiding harm. Smith will need to spend more time in the kitchen and the gym if he wants to play all 17 games for Philadelphia this season.
If Smith does not gain 5-10 pounds between now and the start of the season, Eagles fans may be in for another long and miserable season.
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