Sunday, December 28, 2014

Eagles experiment with Clay Harbor, Jason Avant on defense to add versatility

Tight end Clay Harbor and wide receiver Jason Avant have both spent time at different positions during practice this week, examples of coach Chip Kelly's emphasis on versatility and perhaps a way to add value to two players who are not guaranteed to make the final roster.

Eagles experiment with Clay Harbor, Jason Avant on defense to add versatility

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant (81) runs a route during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jason Avant (81) runs a route during the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Tight end Clay Harbor and wide receiver Jason Avant have both spent time at different positions during practice this week, examples of coach Chip Kelly's emphasis on versatility and perhaps a way to add value to two players who are not guaranteed to make the final roster.

Harbor has worked with outside linebacker, while Avant tried defensive back. It should be noted that neither player is changing positions, but rather an occassional experiment to see what both players can do.

Both Harbor and Avant were present at Saturday's Eagles Academy for Men, a football clinic for male fans to enhance their knowledge of the game.

"I'm a tight end, for emergency situations, versatility purposes, for me, I'm learning something," Harbor said after working with fans. "You have 53 guys on the roster, you have [46] guys that dress. Something happens to where you need an outside linebacker, it be good to know some. Coaches talked to me, 'Would you mind learning a little bit of linebacker, just in case?'"

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Harbor figured the more he could do, the better it would be for the team and his chances of making the roster. He recognizes the numbers crunch at tight end -- there are five on the roster, and James Casey and Zach Ertz both joined Brent Celek this offseason and will make the team, barring injury. He'sook part in one day of practices and meetings at linebacker, and did miss any offensive installation.

"I'm still a tight end -- I'm not switching positions," Harbor said.

But Harbor understands the chances of getting cut, so versatility can be especially important to him. Avant, 30, has played seven seasons and been a fixture in the Eagles offense. He did not view being asked to do something out of the ordinary as an indication of an uncertain future.

"It's one of those things I work hard, and whatever that may be, and whatever the team wants me to do, I'll do it," Avant said. "Whatever that is, special teams, offense, whatever it may bring. I'm going to do it the best I can. I don't necessarily think it's a clouded future. I think it's an honor, in any way, for any coach to think you can do other things."

Look for much more in Monday's Inquirer and on Inquirer.com.

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Birds' Eye View is the Inquirer's blog covering all things Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL.

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