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Clay Harbor Switches To WR

Clay Harbor was a tight end with Andy Reid. This year, Chip Kelly has tried him at outside linebacker, and now he’s practicing exclusively at receiver.

Harbor is no higher than fourth on the tight end depth chart, and there simply is no opportunity for him to see meaningful snaps there. He has been very receptive to trying different positions, hoping that versatility will increase his value to the team:

“I’m open to it,” Harbor said. “The more you can do, the more reps you can get, just makes you more valuable as a player.”

If there’s one thing Harbor can do to become more valuable to the Eagles, it’s to establish himself as a legitimate wide receiver. Jeremy Maclin and Arrelious Benn will miss the entire 2013 season due to torn ACLs, and the team is hurting for outside receivers. Besides DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper, the Eagles don’t have players who can threaten defensive backs with their size or long speed on the perimeter. Harbor – whose practice reps at linebacker were always more of an experiment than a permanent change – appears to be going all in as he attempts to make the team as a wide receiver:

“I’m strictly with the wideouts right now,” he said. “I’m meeting with the wideouts. I’m practicing with the wideouts. I still remember everything about the tight end position, though.”

Harbor’s main competitors for a roster spot are Greg Salas and undrafted rookie Russell Shepard. While Harbor doesn’t have the quickness or ball skills of either one, his 6’3″, 255 pound frame could give him a distinct advantage. Chip Kelly demands great blocking from his receivers, and could view Harbor’s tight end size as a major bonus at the receiver position.

While Harbor certainly has size and versatility working in his favor, it’s never a good sign when a player has to change positions to see the field. The Eagles clearly haven’t defined a role for him on the offense, and Harbor will have to carve out a niche as a versatile special teams ace in order to make the final 53. He needs a big preseason to stick around with the Eagles for a fourth season.

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