There is no denying that Billy McMullen has skills. Partially because of those skills and partially out of necessity, McMullen has found more playing time since he arrived in the NFL in 2003. Playing in just one game that first season, McMullen was glad when he found himself in nine games the following season and in 2005, he saw action in every game. It's been somewhat of a catch-22, but in a good way. McMullen's added playing time has given him added confidence and a chance to show his skills. His added confidence and showcasing of his skills has gotten him more playing time.
Even with all of his talent, McMullen has found the going tough at times. Catchable passes have found their way out of his hands and onto the turf as incomplete passes. One of the reasons has been the added pounding that receivers tend to take in the NFL. "I took some pretty good shots and I do have to hang on to the ball tighter, but it's certainly not from lack of effort or worrying about the hits," explained McMullen.
If the Eagles were taking things slow with McMullen before, the pace has definitely stepped up now. Greg Lewis ranks as number one on the depth chart, with a returning Todd Pinkston right there looking to reclaim his role with the club. With Pinkston being somewhat of a question mark because of injury and Lewis not seizing the opportunity to establish himself as the team's number one receiver, the competition in camp could be wide open. Even if the Eagles do look for a trade or free agent signing to fill Terrell Owens' shoes, there figures to be competition for spots in the lineup. That leaves young players like McMullen and Reggie Brown in prime positions. Brown made his mark in 2005 and although he wasn't as impressive, McMullen also left no doubt that he can assume more responsibility.
For McMullen though, he's not just looking ahead of him, he's looking behind. "Unless you're a superstar, there's always someone capable of taking your job in this league," said McMullen. "I may move up on the charts, but if I don't just go out and make plays, I could be further down and looking up."
While McMullen isn't afraid to show his confidence, he's certainly not the arrogant type. His big frame doesn't quite fit the personality that shines through from McMullen, who graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Religious Studies. "I am confident, but I know there are other guys out there who could grab my job away. That's where working harder and making sure that you get the job done comes in," said McMullen. That hard work led to a number of firsts for the 25 year old receiver in 2005. His first touchdown pass came from Mike McMahon against the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas Eve; "That was special. You never know just how good that first one feels until you experience it. Especially looking back on it." The achievements are just more accomplishments that McMullen has to his record. At Virginia, he became the first receiver to lead the team in receiving four straight years and he finished his college career as the school's all-time leader in catches (210) and yards (2,978). He also ranks third on the school's list with 24 touchdown catches.
So, will he finish his NFL career with the same sort of numbers? "I just want to be good. The numbers will take care of themselves if I take care of doing what I can do to help the Eagles."
Sounds like a plan.
Billy McMullen's career stats
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