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Eagles activate McNutt from practice squad

reuben frank csnphilly

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 06:35 PM


Eagles activate McNutt from practice squad

November 30, 2012, 3:17 pm

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Nick Foles and Marvin McNutt both started out as Big 10 quarterbacks back in 2007, Foles at Michigan State before transferring to Arizona and McNutt at Iowa before converting to wide receiver.

So Foles has been watching McNutt for a long time.

“I played against him twice in college, so I’ve seen him several times and seen the growth in his career over the years,” Foles said after practice Friday.

“He went from being a college quarterback to being one of the top wide receivers in the country, which says a lot about him.”

Foles, who’ll make his third NFL start at quarterback on Sunday night in Dallas in place of injured Michael Vick, could find himself throwing to McNutt for the first time.

The Eagles promoted McNutt from the practice squad on Friday to take the roster spot that opened up when they placed DeSean Jackson on Injured Reserve with broken ribs. Jackson is out for the year.

McNutt, a rookie sixth-round pick, had been on the practice squad the first 12 weeks of the season.

The Eagles still have one more roster spot open, courtesy of releasing Jason Babin, but head coach Andy Reid said he hadn’t decided what to do with it and may not even fill it before Sunday night.

As for McNutt, the promotion is the culmination of three months of hard work after he got cut following the preseason.

“I feel like I’ve come a long way since then,” said McNutt, who stands 6-foot-3, 215 pounds. “A lot of times [receivers coach David] Culley talks to me and tells me just how far I’ve come knowing how to play the game, finishing the right way.

“Really, when you just get to play better competition, you’re going to become a better player, and we have a lot of good competition around here.”

The Eagles had two receivers on the practice squad, and it came down to McNutt or rookie B.J. Cunningham, the Dolphins’ sixth-round pick out of Michigan State. Both were very productive college receivers with terrific size, but McNutt got the nod because he’s been here a little longer and has a bit better grasp of the offense.

“Hopefully me moving up is a testament to the work I’ve put in,” he said. “It could have been B.J. or anybody on the practice squad. We’ve both been working our tails off.”

McNutt’s teammates say they see a big difference between McNutt from Lehigh and a preseason in which he caught just one pass for 13 yards and the McNutt of late November.

“Really, he’s understanding the game a little better,” Jeremy Maclin said. “He has phenomenal hands, but as far as knowing the scheme, understanding the offense and just becoming a better student of the game.

“One thing we had to work on with him when he got here was his releases. A lot of guys coming in from college don’t really know how to release for real, because it’s different. But I think that’s one thing he definitely got a lot better at because he gets to face Nnamdi [Asomugha] and DRC [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] every day on the scout team.

“He’s come a long way. It’s not like they’re bringing him up for nothing. They obviously see something they like.”

How much McNutt plays remains to be seen. The Eagles now have three receivers on the 53-man roster who weren’t here last year – Greg Salas, Damaris Johnson and McNutt – and two who weren’t on the roster two weeks ago.

So McNutt has a chance to get some reps Sunday night, when the Eagles try to avoid an eighth straight loss.

If he plays, he’ll be the 13th Eagle to make his NFL debut this year.

“It’s tough practicing all week and going to meetings, and then Sunday comes and you’re home watching on TV,” McNutt said. “It’s definitely not something you want to do, especially when you feel like you can be out there helping the team any way you can.

“It’s one of those things you just have to deal with. You’re still fortunate enough to be in the league, but you want to play.”

Sunday, he may finally get that opportunity.

“He’s definitely matured and grown every day,” Foles said. “He’s a very talented receiver, a big target and he’s coming into his own.”

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com