TRAVIS FULGHAM IS NO FLASH IN THE PAN
On October 3rd this year the 0-2-1 Eagles boarded a jumbo jet across the country to SFO Airport in San Francisco to play the NFC Champion, 49ers.
It was a bleak outlook as the Eagles came off a 70-minute battle with the win less Bengals to end up in a tie. Yikes! How had the Birds with such lofty expectations slipped so low.
In addition, the Eagles would be without Jalen Reagor and DeSean Jackson at wide receiver and a host of offensive lineman. Who would Carson use as a weapon to throw the ball too?
Quietly, the Eagles had activated from their practice squad a player named Travis Fulgham from the reserve squad to the active roster.
It barely generated more than an obligatory blip in the transactions column. Yet, Fulgham started that game along with rookie fifth-round pick, John Hightower from Boise State.
Fulgham wore No. 13 that evening on Sunday Night Football in America, NBC's signature game of the week. Al Michaels called Fulgham's name when he recorded his first NFL catch in the second quarter, a 13-yard out route that Carson hit with perfect timing.
That too barely registered barely a blip.
Fulgham became a national name when the Birds were faced with a 2-and-18 at the 49ers 42 yard line training 14-11. Fulgham ran a GO route v 49er corner Dontae Johnson.
Carson didn't look at anyone else. His mind was made up as soon as he received the shotgun snap from Jason Kelce.
He was taking the deep shot to take the lead and have a chance to win the first game of the season. Fulgham got a step on Johnson with a good release, and Wentz put a lot of air under the ball.
Fulgham stretched out for the ball and got both hands on it at the 49ers nine-yard line and somehow walked a sideline tight rope before doing a forward somersault into the end zone to score his first NFL TD; and to help secure the team's first win of the season.
In essence, he saved the Eagles season.
Since that notorious catch, he has been targeted 34 more times for 21 receptions and over 300 yards and two more touchdowns.
He has become the biggest and most important receiver on the Eagles and even when the other receivers get healthy and return, I believe Travis Fulgham will remain their most prized receiver for the rest of the season.
But who is Travis Fulgham?
He is the son of military parents who journeyed around from base to base, some of them overseas.
He only played two years of high school football. Took a scholarship offer to Conference USA powerhouse, Old Dominion University. Y
es he was a productive player for the Monarchs. Yes, their mascot is a butterfly! But he was invited to play in the 2019 Senior Bowl.
Eagle scouts there thought he had a productive week, and he even caught a pass in the game.
Scouts gave him a starters grade. So did other teams. The Lions drafted him in the sixth round.
After spending most of the season on their practice squad, they activated him in December for a matchup with Tampa Bay.
They brought him back to training camp in a COVID-19 World. The Lions didn't believe he was a game changer, although he had good size and reliable hands.
So on August 9th the Lions waived Fulgham. The following day, Aug 10, the Packers claimed him. Nine days later the Packers released him.
The following day, the Eagles remembering his week at the Senior Bowl and his starter grade on him claimed him on August 20. He labored unnoticed for two weeks until he was activated on October 3 in time to debut v the 49ers.
This is where the "Rocky Theme Music" begins to play. Travis Fulgham is that guy against all odds that we love to say...I remember when I first saw him when!
When I watch him play throughout the month of October three things jump out to me. He reminds me of a young healthy Alshon Jeffrey. At the NFL scouting combine he was listed at 6-2 1/2-foot-215 sturdy pounds. Roughly the same size as Alshon.
He ran a 4.58 40 which is considered slow by NFL standards. Just a little slower than Alshon.
But he is smooth out of his breaks.
He has an instinctive ability to time his jumps to get to the football before anyone else. He also is a good route runner that catches the ball with his hands away from his body.
He naturally comes back to the football. And like Alshon, he knows how to use his big body to shield off defenders.
This was so evident in the Raven game when Carson was being chased to his right to get away from a max blitz just hurled a " Hail Mary" pass from his 35-yard line into the end zone on fourth down and nine to go.
Down 30-14 the Birds had nothing to lose. But Fulgham jumped between two Pro Bowl players, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters to come down with the football and to continue a great comeback.
The second noticeable feature about Fulgham is how well Carson throws the football when he targets the young phenom. He throws the ball with extreme confidence knowing that Fulgham will fight for the ball and is reliable that if he touches the ball he will catch it.
In fact, I think Carson throws his best and most accurate footballs to Fulgham. I don't believe, as the Eagles fight to get back to 500 football and respectability, that Fulgham's impact will diminish. He isn't a flash-in-the-pan.
I think they should target him more and call more plays for him as a true No. 1 wide receiver. Even when the other injured players return.
Lastly, you can just tell, and it is reiterated to me by teammates, that he is an innately happy guy who can't get the smile wiped off of his face. He plays with a smile as well just enjoying his 'Rocky' Moment and notoriety.
As I write this the Birds sit at 2-4-1 and as a member of the NFC EAST are the butt of many jokes. That's OK. As the great John Madden used to say on many national telecasts over the years, that the NFL season doesn't begin until there is "a frost on the pumpkin."
When I awoke this morning the temperature was a muggy 57 degrees. No frost yet. There is plenty of time for the Birds to dig themselves out of an early crypt. And when they do,Travis Fulgham, will play a vital role in their resurrection. *