Philadelphia Eagles: 4 Players Who Are Turning Heads at Offseason Workouts
The Philadelphia Eagles just started their three-day mini-camp yesterday at the NovaCare Complex, signaling the transition from casual offseason workouts to full-scale, full-team practices. Training camp is set to begin in the third week of July.
We've seen enthralling position battles, Super Bowl guarantees, and the development of several key rookies, but the best part of any offseason is watching players who look like they've been into football since Day 1. They're energized, ready to go, and making their teammates around them work harder and play better.
Here are four guys on the Eagles who have turned heads this offseason.
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Rookie Mychal Kendricks has played extremely well since joining the Eagles, so well in fact that he was essentially named the starter at strong-side linebacker early in OTAs.
Kendricks has shown the explosiveness, athleticism and pass-rushing ability that the Eagles drafted him for, but he's also shown vast improvements in his coverage of tight ends through the rookie minicamp, OTAs and full-team minicamp.
He even made an impression on Day 1 by picking off fellow rookie Nick Foles.
The Eagles needed a good pass-rusher/coverage man at the strong-side position, so if Kendricks can carry over this stellar play into the preseason and then the regular season, the defense could be in even better shape than previously thought.
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Brent Celek is one of the more under-appreciated Eagles, but he's looked to change the league's perception of him this offseason.
Celek—one of the best blocking tight ends and a reliable receiver—has never really received the praise he deserves from the rest of the NFL. He's never made it to the Pro Bowl, has never won a team award, and hasn't even gotten a sniff at an All-Pro selection.
A lot of it is based around the fact that he's been used primarily as a blocker since 2009, when he had 971 yards and eight touchdowns receiving. While he's been the best blocker at his position, the idea doesn't really appeal to Pro Bowl voters or anyone else deciding if he deserves an award.
Now that some of Celek's blocking duties are being given to others, the former Cincinnati product has wasted no time impressing the media. Even though he's limited coming off of shoulder and hernia surgeries, he's made a couple of highlight-reel catches including a leaping grab over linebacker Casey Matthews.
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Two ways to describe Brandon Graham's NFL career up until now? Injury-riddled and unproductive.
In two years Graham has only played 16 games while recording 17 tackles and three sacks. Jason Babin had more production in two games last season than Graham has had in his entire career.
Since the Eagles drafted Vinny Curry, Graham's roster spot has been up for question. The Eagles are going to keep five defensive ends, and Babin, Curry and Trent Cole are guaranteed to make the team. That means the final two spots will come down between Graham, Darryl Tapp and Phillip Hunt.
Graham has made sure that nothing is left to chance. He's played extremely well so far this offseason, earning praise from fellow DEs Trent Cole and Darryl Tapp. He's been rushing the passer with an added intensity and seems to have the internal fire that everybody needs to shine.
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Of all the big acquisitions the Eagles made last offseason, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was the most disappointing. He only made 28 tackles, didn't pick off any passes, and made a bunch of boneheaded plays that cost Philly games down the stretch.
Now that Asante Samuel is gone, DRC is back in his normal position of left outside cornerback. He simply couldn't play the slot.
Since he's been moved back there, Rodgers-Cromartie has done nothing but impress this offseason. According to a report by CBS's Ed Benkin, DRC looks faster and more agile this year. He's not shying away from tackles in drills and has given the Eagles wide receivers no room to operate.
That is just the product of being moved to the outside. In the slot, DRC was confined and to rely more on his technique, but now his ball skills and athleticism are being put to good use as he has more freedom to cover his man in different ways.
If he can keep this up, the Eagles secondary might be able to do what many thought it should've done last year: be the best in the NFL.
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