Joshua Perkins laid his helmet on top of his locker after a recent Eagles practice. Unlike most guys, Perkins has a locker in the middle of the room, a spot typically reserved for younger players who might not make the 53-man roster.

But after a year in which he didn't play, Perkins is trying to earn his way back onto an NFL roster and make sure that his stay isn't as temporary as his locker.

"I'm really impressed with the entire group," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said of the tight ends. "From top to bottom, it looks like everybody's improved, put a lot of time in over the summer. … It's up to us to try to find a role for each of them."

Perkins is hoping to snag what will likely be the final tight end spot. Zach Ertz continues to cement himself as one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league, and second-round pick Dallas Goedert likely will get the second-string role.

Even though veteran Richard Rodgers is one of the guys in the mix, Perkins, 24, has Super Bowl experience, something that neither practice-squad holdover Billy Brown nor Adam Zaruba can claim. Perkins was active for the final 11 games of the 2016 season with Atlanta, catching a touchdown in Week 16 vs. Carolina and working mostly with the Falcons' special teams.

And while Perkins doesn't have a ring to show for it, he learned plenty in his rookie season working alongside five-time Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones.

"Every day, [Jones] comes in knowing he's going to dominate every play, and that's how you have to look at it," Perkins said. "Each play, he's coming in with the mindset knowing that nobody can stop him, and he said that's the mindset you have to have."

Perkins went undrafted out of Washington in 2016 before signing with the Falcons and making their practice squad. But after Perkins was relegated to the practice squad in 2017, he suffered an injury that ultimately led to double hernia surgery last October, before he was waived in January.

Joshua Perkins (left) trying to haul in a pass for Washington against Arizona State in 2015.
Ross D. Franklin / AP
Joshua Perkins (left) trying to haul in a pass for Washington against Arizona State in 2015.

That paved the way for him to sign a reserve/futures contract with the Eagles and join former Huskies teammate Elijah Qualls, a second-year defensive tackle.

"Perk's a chill dude, man. He's goofy, hard-working. He's definitely somebody you like being around and having fun with," Qualls said. "But he's serious about his ball, too. He studies; he works hard, tries to get better every day."

Whoever fills that third tight-end spot will play a crucial role as the Eagles try to replace both Brent Celek, who was released, and Trey Burton, who signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the Chicago Bears.

While Rodgers, now in his fifth NFL season after playing his first four with Green Bay, might be the favorite given his pedigree, Perkins is a former wideout and could make the regular-season roster if the Eagles prefer a quicker option similar to Burton.

"Competition is going to help everybody out," Perkins said. "We're competing, so it's just going to bring out the best in all of us."