Philadelphia Eagles WR Greg Salas has gone from being a camp body afterthought to being in the conversation for a spot on the 53-man roster. That’s what two season-ending injuries to players ahead of you on the depth chart and making a highlight reel catch in a game can do.
I just wrote recently that Ifeanyi Momah and Russell Shepard would be the main two competitors for what could be the fifth and final roster spot at wide receiver. This was based on their position on the depth chart as well as reports coming out of training camp practices.
Shepard has been a star in camp while Momah has extremely intriguing physical tools to work with.
As almost a cliff note, I made mention that Salas had generated a little bit of buzz himself prior to the game last week, but I still didn’t see him as a legitimate challenger for a roster spot.
Well, thanks to his performance in the first preseason game, he has opened some eyes to not only the fans and media, but also to his coaches.
For the record, Salas’ stats from the game were three catches for 54 yards and one touchdown, which led all Eagles receivers. And to put it into context, most of this happened in the fourth quarter against deep reserves (but also playing with deep reserves).
On his touchdown, he showed some niftiness running the ball after taking a bubble screen 12 yards for the score. However, it was his end-of-the-game 35-yard go-up and snatch the ball one-handed catch that really got everyone buzzing.
If you missed it, here it is…
So, just who is this Greg Salas anyway? And how did this future Hall-of-Famer go unnoticed for this long?
He played his college football at Hawaii where he racked-up some pretty impressive stats over four years: 285 receptions for 4,345 yards and 26 touchdowns. His senior season he posted 119 catches for 1,889 yards and 14 TDs.
His college career was good enough to merit a fourth-round draft pick by the Rams in the 2011 draft. In his rookie year in St. Louis, he posted 27 catches for 264 yards before a broken ankle ended his season.
2012 was a year to forget for Salas as he was traded to New England just before the season began. He ended up being cut a couple weeks later and then signed to their practice squad. Then he was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster in November but was then cut again a week later.
He didn’t clear waivers that time as the Eagles scooped him up and have held onto him since then.
Here is a quick 2011 draft scouting report snippet I found via ESPN from the 2011 Pro Football Weekly draft guide:
Confident, scrappy, tough, physical football player who made a killing executing speed outs, underneath routes and seam routes in Hawaii’s field-stretching system. Lacks ideal slot suddenness but is a savvy, effective zone beater with sure hands and could carve a similar niche as Jason Avant.”
Ironic that he was compared to Jason Avant, whom now is his teammate. However, based on an extremely limited sample size, my initial impression is that he’s a little more athletic than Avant.
That scouting report also reeks of the type of player Kelly likes. He also has some size that Kelly prefers as well at 6′ 2″, 210 lbs. After the game, Kelly was asked about Salas, here is what he said (courtesy of Reuben Frank at CSNPhilly.com):
“He’s one of those guys that just keeps showing up,” head coach Chip Kelly said. “He’s that guy that whenever he gets his opportunity, he seems to step up. That’s an important thing, because depth at wide receiver is a huge question for us right now.
“But you have a guy that has a little experience and that showed today. He kind of has a knack for making plays.”
And now that he has stepped up in a game, he apparently has moved himself up the depth chart a little bit because he’s getting some time with the first string in practice.
It’s still early and we have two more preseason games before the first round of cuts begin, but if Salas keeps this up, he will make it very difficult for Kelly to cut him. That is, unless we see Shepard and/or Momah break out in the next two games.