A week of Eagles training camp has come and gone, leaving us with a lot of optimism and information to consider. Though it is only training camp, much of the progress can be seen whether through team chemistry, fundamentals, or a fueled rivalry that continued with a Greg Hardy-sponsored banner flying across the Eagles open practice during the singing of the national anthem. I want to use this information that bled out of training camp to analyze some parts of the Eagles that give me confidence as well as some things that make me run for cover.
Sam Bradford & Sons
The oohs and the ahhs are beginning to take place as the fans that were once hazy on the acquisition of injury-ridden Sam Bradford are now bestowed with excitement. When looking at the battle for the starting quarterback position, Bradford, in my mind, has already won. Bradford has been receiving the majority of the first-team reps over Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley and Tim Tebow and has shown confidence in his ability to hit his target with precision with each additional practice. Of course health is the number one concern for Bradford, who has a history of injuries and time off the field. As a five-year veteran, Bradford has had only two years where he completed a full season: his rookie campaign and in 2012. Seeing him move with ease and stepping into his throws, he is looking like the number one pick he was selected as in the 2010 NFL Draft. Though he has yet to perform to these expectations, there is no doubting the raw talent instilled in him. The true test will begin when there is another team on the opposite side going after him.
DeMarco Murray and the Three-Headed Monster
DeMarco Murray returned to the field after sitting out the last few of practices because of dehydration and an undisclosed illness. On Sunday, he was in full pads and a helmet but did not participate in team drills. Whether it is fear of injury or simply overproduction, the Eagles have been giving Murray an easy workload during training camp thus far. 16 weeks for a season is very long, especially for an NFL running back who had a demanding workload the year prior. Of course this concern will be eased with Darren Sproles and Ryan Matthews as the three-headed monster in the backfield will give teams fits trying to control the running game. Each running back has his own unique style of play and this will be beneficial to the versatility of Chip Kelly’s offense.
Young Wide Receivers:
The Eagles young wide receiving corps will have much to prove after the departure of Jeremy Maclin, who left for Kansas City as a free agent, but they have shown a great deal of promise in the little amount of time in camp. Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, and rookie first-round pick Nelson Agholor have all impressed during this week and have shown glimpses of their potential on the football field. Huff has done an great job with special teams and is showing the Eagles organization why he is deserving of more playing time. Agholor will have many chances in the Eagles offense to learn what duties he excels in and where he best fits. Although he has yet to play a single snap, many critics have already projected him as a great candidate to win rookie of the year. Jordan Matthews, with a year of development under his belt, is primed for a breakout year during his sophomore campaign.
When talking to CSN Philly after practice about his acrobatic catch that got the fans excited, he stated:
“The way I look at it, that’s what I have to do. People may say, ‘That’s a tough grab, this and that,’ but God made me 6-3 for a reason. I’ve got to go up and get the ball. That’s got to be my job. If I’m going to stay in the league, I’ve got to be able to do that.”
Byron Maxwell has had a great week and has impressed the many fans who came to watch the Eagles final open practice. On one play on Sunday, he went stride for stride with Nelson Agholor on a well-thrown deep Sam Bradford pass and batted the ball down. There is a swagger to Maxwell’s game and so far, he looks well deserving of the large sum of money the Eagles paid to strip him from Seattle. The Eagles haven’t had this kind of cornerback on their side for some time so watching him play like the hard-working veteran he is has been nothing but breathtaking. With that being said, the Eagles lost a very important piece and possible starter in cornerback JaCorey Shepherd to a torn ACL in his right knee. Shepherd was in position to fill the void that Brandon Boykin left at the nickel when Boykin was traded off to inner-state rival Pittsburgh. With this injury, Chip Kelly stated that Jaylen Watkins, Eric Rowe and E.J. Biggers will rotate at the nickel during training camp. Chip will have to figure out who best fits in the nickel moving forward.
Kelly says Watkins, Rowe and Biggers will all rotate at nickel with 1st team for now and "we know we have" Jenkins & Thurmond who can do it
— Dave Spadaro (@EaglesInsider) August 11, 2015
The Offensive Line:
I am a firm believer of games being won in the trenches: the battle of inches. And this is why my biggest worry for the Eagles this upcoming season is the offensive line. Sure, they do have Jason Kelce, Jason Peters, and Lane Johnson returning, but the right guard position has been a very confusing hole to fill. So far, four players have logged time in this position during practice. Whether this is versatility or a battle of mediocrity, this clearly shows that there is still no legitimate starter for that position yet. Had they kept Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans, the Eagles would probably have been in a better position since the right guard position would be one fewer thing to worry about.
DeMarco Murray, with his time at Dallas, (as an Eagles fan, I hate to say this) had a great group of guys in front of him to give him open lanes and many opportunities to gut the defense. Hopefully the Eagles offensive line will do the same and give Murray and Company the same amount of quality running lanes to be successful in Chip’s system.
All in all, I am very excited to see what this year’s Eagles bring to us. Though there are some holes, the potential to be great is there. The first preseason game will begin at 1 PM against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday August 16. I am excited to see how all the pieces fit together and as always, Fly Eagles Fly!