Air Force Lt. Chad Hall is still a long way from making the Philadelphia Eagles 53-man regular season roster. But he’s a lot closer than he was last week.
The undrafted free agent put together a strong performance in Friday’s preseason victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, making big plays at multiple positions. Hall was so impressive that could very well be turning into one those determined underdogs (think Vince Papale) who endears himself to a city, judging by weekend headlines in some Philadelphia-area papers:
“Free agent Chad Hall steals the show in Eagles first exhibition game”
“Air Force veteran Chad Hall off to high-flying start with Eagles”
“Bubble-guy Hall knows he has a chance to make Eagles roster”
Hall played wide receiver, running back, punt returner and kickoff returner against Jacksonville, and excelled in every role. After pulling in a long pass from third-string quarterback Mike Kafka, Hall used his speed and some sharp moves to turn the play into a 57-yard catch-and-run (watch it here.) As a running back, the 5-foot-8 Hall showed his explosiveness again on a 22-yard run. And on special teams, Hall returned two punts for seven yards — not “wow” stats, yet he was singled out for praise by head coach Andy Reid for showily sound judgment on deciding what punts to field. Hall returned kickoffs as well after Philly’s regular returner went down.
According to Hall of Fame sportswriter Ray Didinger, Hall’s breakout performance means he’s crossed the line from a longshot roster-filler to a guy coaches now have to take seriously.
“Right now, the Eagles’ coaches are looking for reasons to keep Chad Hall,” wrote Didinger. “That’s not to say he is a lock to make the final roster. He still has a lot to overcome, including his size (5-foot-8) and the fact that the Eagles have a surplus of receivers. But Hall has crossed that all-important point where the coaches now want to give him the benefit of the doubt.
“He had an impressive debut in the preseason opener against Jacksonville. Coach Andy Reid singled him out for praise. Of course, this all could go out the window if he muffs a punt or drops a pass in the end zone this Friday in Cincinnati, but for now the former Air Force lieutenant has the coaches stroking their chins and wondering: ‘What can we do with this guy?'”
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