Eagles veteran receiver Torrey Smith has played alongside some of the game’s most gifted receivers, namely Anquan Boldin and Steve Smith.
Third-year Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor tops them all in terms of talent, according to Torrey Smith, who has seen Agholor evolve from highly criticized top draft pick to a player nearing his potential.
“I’ve been around some great receivers,” Smith said Tuesday. “Naturally the way he moves, he’s quick, he’s fast. He’s probably the most athletic receiver I’ve been around. I wasn’t surprised to see him have that success.”
Agholor led all Eagles receivers with 62 catches this season, a career-high mark along with his 768 receiving yards and eight touchdown grabs.
That seemed like a far cry a season ago, when Agholor was entrusted as the No. 1 option for a then-rookie Carson Wentz. The former 20th-overall pick out of USC initially fell short of expectations. His seven drops in 2016 were the third most by any receiver with at least 30 catches that season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Smith, who signed with the Eagles last offseason, said he’s seen the confidence in Agholor that is critical for any young player going through early struggles.
“Even for high school kids out there, a lot of times it’s a mental game,” Smith said. “It’s about confidence. No matter what, don’t lose your confidence, because then you lose everything.”
Chewed up, spit out
Tom Brady’s ties to Minnesota have become a popular story line this week. His mom, Galynn, grew up in Browerville, and the family visited many times during Tom’s childhood.
Brady shared another memory from those visits, although not a particularly pleasant one.
“I remember my uncles gave me chewing tobacco for the first time when I was really young,” Brady said. “We were fishing. On the way home I said I want to try it. They said, ‘Look, if we give it to you, then you can’t spit it out until you get home.’ It was a 30-minute ride back to my grandpa’s farm. So of course they give it to me and within five minutes I’m outside the car throwing up all over the place. I don’t think I’ve had much chewing tobacco since then.”
On the bright side …
“We caught a lot of fish,” he said. “That’s one thing as a kid in Minnesota, you can catch a lot of fish. Some of my greatest memories was being on the lake with my uncles and grandpa, my parents and sister. We had so much fun.”
Rookie vs. the vet
Much attention has been paid to the experience gap between quarterbacks Brady and Nick Foles. Perhaps the largest gap across positions is actually at kicker, where Patriots veteran Stephen Gostkowski is in his 25th playoff game and fifth Super Bowl.
Eagles kicker Jake Elliott, a rookie plucked off the Bengals practice squad in September to replace injured starter Caleb Sturgis, is kicking in his 18th career NFL game. Elliott already has made some clutch kicks for the Eagles, starting with a 61-yard game-winner as time expired against the Giants in Week 3.
It was the first of nine consecutive victories for the Eagles.
“You like to think that kind of sparked a big run there,” Elliott said. “I think it was a big momentum change in our season. A big kick for me, too, obviously. A big confidence booster.”
Brady’s hand ‘getting better’
Brady continued to wear a glove on his injured right hand during media obligations Tuesday, five days before he’ll play in his eighth Super Bowl. Brady injured his hand during practice before the AFC title win. He still passed for 290 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars.
“It’s getting better,” Brady said Tuesday during his Super Bowl media session. “It is not quite where I want it to be, so I am trying to protect it the best way I can.”
Elflein on the mend
“All went well” with Vikings center Pat Elflein’s surgery Monday to repair his fractured left ankle, a league source told the Star Tribune. Elflein, the rookie whose 960 snaps ranked fifth on the Vikings offense, suffered the injury in Minnesota’s 38-7 NFC Championship Game loss in Philadelphia.
Elflein is expected to be ready for Vikings training camp this summer, the source said, if not sooner.
Staff writer Chip Scoggins contributed to this report.