In 3rd Training Camp, Relaxed Nelson Agholor in ‘a Great Place'

A day after his best performance at training camp, which happened to come in front of 23,000 fans at the Linc, Nelson Agholor stayed on the fields at the NovaCare Complex after practice, getting in extra work on a sweltering hot day. 

As he walked off the field, holding his pads and dripping sweat, he couldn't help but break into a large grin. 

"I'm in a great place and I'm happy about it," he said. "And I plan on staying that way."

It's almost hard to believe this is the same player who struggled so much with the pressures of the NFL last season that head coach Doug Pederson needed to give him a game off for a mental health day. That seems like years ago. 

From the first workout of the spring, Agholor has had a different mindset. He worked to put the past, which includes two disappointing seasons in the NFL, behind him. At every practice, he's seemed relaxed and has been having fun. 

"You know what's crazy?" Agholor said. "Grinding harder is what allowed me to loosen up more."

While it might seem counterproductive for a player in need of relaxation to "grind harder," it kind of makes sense for Agholor. He's a technician. He's always been a perfectionist and he said focusing even more has allowed him to enjoy the game and it's been working so far this summer. 

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This is all well and good, right? 

So what if Agholor is having fun? 

So what if he's been shining during training camp practices? 

He needs to do it in games. 

You're right. Agholor has looked good in practices before and it hasn't translated onto the field. And there's just no way to know if he's actually turned to corner in his career until he steps on the field in a game that matters. 

"I'm going to be really honest with you," Jordan Matthews said. "I've never seen Nelson have bad camps, for what it's worth. The biggest thing I always tell Nelson right now is 'don't read, don't think about it, just keep working on your craft.' Because you guys know just as well as I do: This stuff is good, it's about sharpening the axe, it's about getting better, but come Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, this don't even matter. 

"We'll talk about it now because you have to write an article every day. I understand that. But it's not going to matter. So I'm always telling him, just keep pressing, keep working on it, keep getting better."

On Tuesday, Matthews remembered Agholor's first training camp in 2015. At times, he said, Agholor looked "uncoverable" but then the season ended up being a resounding disappointment. Agholor caught 23 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown as a rookie. While his second season was better, he still didn't live up to expectations, catching 36 passes for 365 yards and two scores. 

In those first two seasons, Agholor was forced to start 26 games. This year, with the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, it seems likely Agholor will have more of a complementary role in 2017. 

But with Jeffery and Smith out on Tuesday and with Matthews still dealing with a lingering knee injury, Agholor has gotten plenty of opportunities during this training camp. And he's looked as impressive as he did during his dynamic spring. 

"He looks really explosive right now," Matthews said, "And I think he's definitely gotten better in a lot of aspects of his game, but this is only the beginning for him."

Agholor was the star of the show at Sunday's open practice at the Linc. He made several big plays that were met with overwhelming applause from the 23,000 fans in attendance. On Tuesday, Agholor said he had already moved on from Sunday but was very appreciative for the support from fans. 

Matthews, who has been one of Agholor's biggest proponents, was happy to see it.  

"That's what I think it should be," Matthews said. "It's the City of Brotherly Love for a reason. If you know anything about a good brother, a good brother is going to be hard on you, is going to be tough on you and he's going to be real with you, but he's also going to support you. And I think that's the biggest thing that the city is trying to do, is support him, get behind him and understand that if you feed into a positive mindset, you're going to get positive results. I'm behind him. I feel like the rest of the team is behind him. And now the city is behind him and he can only go up from here."

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