Eagles' Nelson Agholor trying to let go so he can hold on

PHILADELPHIA -- During team drills Monday, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor darted downfield and right past the defensive backs for what appeared to be an easy touchdown. Instead, the ball caromed off his helmet and hit the turf.

"I couldn't see it," Agholor said afterward, suggesting the ball got lost in the lights of the Eagles' indoor training facility. "It's the game of football. I've got behind defenses and caught that and scored also, so at the end of the day, that's over with. Next play, line up and run by them again."

That type of scene has played out far too often over Agholor's two-plus years with the team. An explosive athlete and quality route runner, the former first-round pick out of USC has the ability to get open; finishing has been the issue. Agholor had the third-worst drop rate in the NFL in 2016 (9.1 percent), with six drops on 66 targets.

The 24-year-old says his mentality has shifted entering Year 3, however. Agholor has been a prime example of why perfect can be the enemy of the good. By his own admission, he has dwelled on mistakes too long in the past, allowing it to impact his performance after the fact. It snowballed last November. Following a critical miscue during a loss at Seattle, Agholor acknowledged the "mental battle" he was dealing with on the field.

"I've got to get out of my own head," he said at the time.

Head coach Doug Pederson sat him the following week against the Green Bay Packers in hopes that a break would get him into a better place.

Set to face those same Packers on Thursday in the preseason opener, Agholor appears armed with more confidence and is trying to adopt a "next-play mentality," he says, "because I know I'm a good receiver and I think I have great hands, and at the end of the day, if the ball comes my way I'm going to pluck it."

Agholor had a drop earlier in the session as well but rebounded with one of his best catches of the summer, finishing a leaping grab by snagging the ball off the shoulder pads of safety Rodney McLeod. Overall, this is the best Agholor has looked as a pro. Part of the credit for that has gone to new receivers coach Mike Groh, who has worked hard to build up Agholor. The trick now is to keep him up.

"Groh has always been about just wanting me to be a special player, because he sees that in me," said Agholor, who has been working both in the slot and on the outside in camp. "So, every day he coaches me hard. He expects nothing but greatness from me and he wants me to be detail-oriented, and I respect that from him and I try to respond every day."

Some other notes from Monday's practice:

  • Projected starting cornerback Patrick Robinson has had his share of rough moments in training camp but came up with the play of the day by jumping a Carson Wentz pass intended for Torrey Smith and returning it for a "touchdown." Wentz couldn't quite track him down despite his best efforts. Robinson nearly had another pick in the end zone as well.

  • Right guard Brandon Brooks left practice early because of an injury. He was replaced in the lineup by former first-round pick Chance Warmack. Running back Wendell Smallwood (hamstring) and receivers Marcus Johnson (hamstring) and Paul Turner (shoulder) were also out. Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) practiced for a second straight day but was limited. Torrey Smith hobbled through much of the session but said he was just sore. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was given the day off.

  • Rookie wideout Shelton Gibson followed up a strong showing Sunday with another good practice. He caught a touchdown over the middle on a pass from Matt McGloin that was nearly intercepted by Jalen Mills.