Philadelphia Eagles Training Camp: Checking in on the Rookies
It's hard to believe that the Philadelphia Eagles are nearly halfway through their training camp in Bethlehem. I've combed through some of the best live camp coverage in order to provide you with some updates on the team's most notable rookies, adding my analysis for a finishing touch.
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox
Cox consistently gets an earful from Jim Washburn, but he doesn't seem to mind. We'll have to see what he does in the preseason, but if Mike Patterson isn't ready to go in Week 1, you could see Cox team up with Jenkins as the first-team defensive tackles. At the very least, he'll be a significant part of the rotation.
I honestly expected to read more about big plays Cox was making, but instead, most of the anecdotes are a little more macro. Either way, I'm yet to see any negative reviews. He's in a great spot.
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks
From CSN Philly's Andy Shwartz's Sunday practice report:
Rookie fullback Jeremy Stewart caught a pass in the flat and withstood a whack from linebacker Mychal Kendricks before gaining another 10 yards or so, prompting this reaction from Jason Avant: "We need that tackle 95."
And here's another negative play featuring Kendricks from Josh Jurnovoy's Friday report:
"On the play, Gibson picked up a block on rookie strongside linebacker Mychal Kendricks and pushed him backwards 10 yards."
It does strike me as odd that Kendricks is not playing all three downs right now, as he was during organized team activities. I'm not overreacting just yet, but Kendricks hasn't been shining to start camp like he was earlier in the offseason.
Defensive End Vinny Curry
Dave Spadaro of PhiladelphiaEagles.com is particularly impressed with Curry's burst off the edge. He and Cox both fared well in Monday's two-minute drill, according to a separate report on the team's website.
As Philly.com's John Roach notes, the injury to Jason Babin helps Curry even more as he's gaining first-team reps in camp. He has a chance to further bolster his profile and earn more reps from Jim Washburn here, and I get the feeling he'll deliver.
Quarterback Nick Foles
Bo Wulf of PhiladelphiaEagles.com noted a great play from Foles in the Friday session last week and later gave Foles credit for a solid practice on Monday, but there hasn't been a lot of chatter. Looks like he's locked in as the team's No. 3 quarterback for Week 1.
Cornerback Brandon Boykin
Getting pretty excited about Boykin's potential to contribute ASAP. I keep hearing that the fourth-round pick out of Georgia is making some great plays.
And he's throwing his body around. From CSN Philly's Timothy Marcin:
The best (and loudest) hit of the day came from rookie corner Brandon Boykin. He laid out rookie receiver Damaris Johnson on a route over the middle, jarring the ball loose. The hit inspired a collective "oooh" from the crowd.
And then later in the same report from Saturday:
This one could either be the fault of Boykin or the referees at practice, depending whom you ask. Boykin made what seemed to be a great place, diving over a receiver, jumping the route and breaking up a pass over the middle. However, Boykin was flagged for pass interference. In a game it would have resulted in a net gain of about 25 yards for the offense. The crowd sided with Boykin, giving the referee a solid booing.
"It was a strong day for Boykin overall, as he made several pass breakups, though his final one of the day, also on Hall, was whistled for pass interference."
Who will be Philadelphia's nickel corner?
I'm pulling for Boykin to beat out Joselio Hanson to win the nickel job, and I think most Eagles fans are in the same boat. Both players will easily make the roster, along with Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Curtis Marsh. Watch for Cliff Harris to make a strong push, too.
Offensive Tackle Dennis Kelly
"Fifth-round draft pick Dennis Kelly has really improved since his early days as an Eagle. He's playing right tackle and has much better footwork and leverage in these practices."
Sheil Kapadia thinks he'll make the roster, but we agree that he isn't ready to be anything more than one of the team's eight inactive players on most game days.
Wide Receiver Marvin McNutt
After Rodgers-Cromartie, the next standout player of the day was sixth-round rookie wide receiver Marvin McNutt, who had made little impact through the first few days of training camp. His impact began in the one-on-ones, when he skied above Joselio Hanson down the left sideline to haul in a nice catch. The book on McNutt, 6-3, 216, has been that he uses his size well along the sideline and in the red zone.
But when the Eagles finally went live, McNutt, taking advantage of Riley Cooper's absence, made a great play in the open field. With the number two offense working against the number one defense, Mike Kafka took a quick drop and fired to his right for a screen. Kurt Coleman came through unblocked and tipped the pass, but McNutt was able to adjust and catch the ball, before making a defender miss, turning upfield and gaining over 20 yards.
Later in the live session, which focused on third-and-medium situations, McNutt beat DeMeco Ryans on a crossing route for a first down. It was a great showing for McNutt, especially on the heels of the fractured collarbone suffered by Riley Cooper.
Very encouraging for Eagles fans, but McNutt will still have to hold off undrafted rookie Damaris Johnson, who we'll get to in a moment.
Guard Brandon Washington
Not much yet here, but the sixth-round pick did have a good enough seal block during Monday's 9-7 inside run drill to earn a shoutout on PhiladelphiaEagles.com.
Running Back Bryce Brown
"The coaches also like the play of seventh-rounder Bryce Brown, but don't expect to see him pushing aside LeSean McCoy or Dion Lewis for playing time."
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has already called Brown out for having "an excellent camp to date," and I'm yet to hear much about undrafted back Chris Polk. Right now, Brown has the clear edge over Polk for the No. 3 job. Sports Illustrated's Don Banks even has Brown ahead of Lewis right now.
Running Back Chris Polk
I again agree with Kapadia, who writes that, "it's still relatively early, but if I were turning in my 53-man roster projection right now, Polk would be off of it."
Wide Receiver Damaris Johnson
He's in the running for the No. 4 receiver spot now that Riley Cooper is hurt, and he caught a deep ball against Trevard Lindley in last Friday's practice.
And then on Saturday, he again had a big play. From Wulf:
The standout play of that final team period came on an end around to rookie Damaris Johnson, who juked a defender in the backfield and raced around the rest of the defenders all the way down the field for about a 30-yard gain. It would have gone even further, and perhaps even for a touchdown, if Johnson's moves hadn't tripped himself up.
Philly.com's John Roach also notes that Johnson will have a shot to make the final 53 because of his ability as a return man. He and Marvin McNutt might end up battling for the spot left temporarily occupied by the injured Riley Cooper. Neither will be major factors this season, but it'll be fun to see who emerges.
Regardless, Chad Hall is in trouble.
Cornerback Cliff Harris
There's a lot of excitement surrounding Harris, who went undrafted, mainly due to character concerns. He also missed all of the offseason because of Oregon's academic calendar, but reportedly stood out in the early part of training camp.
Harris held his ground Monday one-on-one with DeSean Jackson, according to PhiladelphiaEagles.com.
Right now, I'm giving him an edge over Brandon Hughes.
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