Well there’s only so much you can tell from a camp where there’s no contact and everyone is in shorts, but here’s the word on the street so far on the rookies and new additions to the Eagles. Another camp begins next week with the whole team returning, but for now we’ll focus on the highlights from the Rookie Camp. OL we will not address since this is no contact and you can’t really measure the lineman when you defense is not coming full throttle. (BUT King Dunlap will be on his last chance to lock down a back up tackle spot since there’s some quality free agent additions and last year’s draft pack Tupou waiting in the wings)
– There’s not much to report on the defensive line in a no contact camp, but 1st Rd pick B. Graham is quick off the line and will put pressure on J. Parker for that starting spot. I expect this to be a good battle to watch through Training Camp and the preseason. Newcomer Tapp may jump in the mix as well, but I believe Parker will start the season opener, and at some point be replaced in the starting line up by the rookie. The DT position is one that will work itself out in the preseason. I don’t see anyone taking a starting position from Bunkley or Patterson, but the back up spots are up for grabs. Dixon & Laws will have to hold off the rookies J. Owens & undrafted free agent Robinson to remain with the team.
-Macho Harris has been moved to CB, where he played in college and may be in the running with Hobbs & Hanson for the starting spot. With the Safety position so crowded suddenly, his ability to play both spots may prove valuable. Rookie N. Allen and newcomer M. Jackson from the Colts are expected to battle for the starting FS spot, and the early reports on Jackson have been promising. 4th Rd pick CB Trevard Lindley has been getting good reviews from this camp as well, but I don’t expect him to challenge for a starting spot this season. The secondary as a whole will work itself out through the preseason games, as long as everyone remains healthy, the coaching staff whould have some good options to choose from.
– WR Riley Cooper has made some noise in this camp and has the lead on a back up WR spot. Special Teams may be the deciding factor, but he could challenge Hank Baskett for the 4th spot behind the top 3 of Jackson, Maclin, & Avant. Depending on how many WRs the Eagles keep, there might be one more spot available. That leaves practice squad players from 2009 Collins & Norwood battling with undrafted rookies Blue Cooper, Pat Simonds, Kevin Jurovich, & the Air Force phenom Chad Hall. Hall actually could turn out to make the team as a KR if the Eagles decide letting Hobbs continue that role is risky coming off his neck injury. He also has been taking some snaps at the RB position, which is also deep.
-As for the RBs, with the top 2 spots set with McCoy & newcomer Mike Bell, that leaves rookie Charles Scott battling special teams ace Eldra Buckley, CFL star Martell Mallett, & undrafted free agent Keithon Flemming. With Leonard “The Dream” Weaver returning at fullback, it gives the team some flexibility with that 3rd spot, assuming they keep three. I expect one or two of these backs to end up on the practice squad along with some of the many receivers in camp.
– At TE, it looks as though the battle will be between the returning Rucker who the coaches are high on and the rookie Clay Harbor. That’s assuming Cornelius Ingram’s knee holds through camp and the preseason, he seems to be the clear cut #2 behind the starter Brent Celek. Ingram (being a favorite of mine from 2009 Training Camp) has been making plays in camp and shows no signs of the knee holding him back, which is a major plus for this team. Harbor will have to be more consistent if he wants to make the final 53, but I can’t imagine him making it to the practice squad without someone picking him up. Better get in the playbook hard before Training Camp!
– And finally the Linebackers! They have had a dramatic turnover from last season’s weak link on defense. The rookies Clayton & Chaney are looking great in coverage, rookie R. Sapp is not. Sapp HOPEFULLY will play the joker position and mostly DE for this team, but the coaches like his size and are giving him a look at the SAM spot. Clayton & Chaney might challenge expected starter Fokou for the SAM spot, but don’t count out Akeem Jordan either. With E. Sims coming in from Detroit and expected to start at the WILL spot, Jordan could end up playing the other side if Fokou or the rookies don’t nail it down during the preseason. Bradley returning to the middle will help the defense, but improvements on the sides of Bradley might put him in the Pro Bowl. The back up MLB spot is a question mark. With Gaither & Mays returning, the back up spots are going to be a good battle in camp. It’s possible this is the last chance for Mays to show her
can command the defense. Camp should be competitive this year with a lot of jobs on the line.
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