NFL Preseason 2012 Week 1: Eagles Camp Battles to Watch for
Preseason NFL football for the Eagles is finally here. It is Week 1 of the NFL Preseason, as the Eagles are preparing to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Teams finally get to hit players wearing a different jersey for the first time since December/January. Or in the case of the Giants and Patriots, February.
Camps battles are raging all across the NFL, and this week is the first time we get to really see those battles escalate, as they take the field in actual game situations, for their first Preseason NFL Game. Here's a rundown of some of the key Eagles battles to watch for during Week 1 against the Steelers.
No. 2 Quarterback
The race looks to be a two-horse between 2010 fourth-round pick Mike Kafka out of Northwestern, and rookie third-round pick Nick Foles out of Arizona (I do not see Trent Edwards making the final roster).
Kafka played in four games in 2011, but only put up stats in two of those games, filling in for injured Michael Vick against Atlanta in Week 2 (7/9, 72 yards) and against the New York Giants in Week 3 (4/7, 35 yards, 2 INTs).
Nick Foles is coming off an impressive 2011 season for Arizona where he completed almost 70% of his passes for over 4,200 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Unless Foles looks like a superstar, Kafka should hang onto the No. 2 quarterback job, with Foles safely on the roster as the No. 3.
No. 2 Running Back
A similar battle to the backup quarterback is happening in the battle to be LeSean McCoy's backup. Just like Kafka and Foles, the backs competing for the job have little or no experience to their name.
Dion Lewis appeared in fifteen games last season, racking up 23 carries for 102 yards and one touchdown.
Behind him sit a pair of rookies, seventh-rounder Bryce Brown and undrafted rookie Chris Polk.
Brown was a former top high school recruit who started at Tennessee, then later transferred to Kansas State to play with his brother.
After suffering an ankle injury to start 2011, Brown left the Wildcats, before being selected with the 229th overall selection (the pick the Eagles received from Atlanta for Asante Samuel).
Chris Polk was a standout running back at the University of Washington, rushing for over 4,000 yards and almost 700 yards in his collegiate career. Medical red flags caused him to go undrafted before being signed after the draft by the Eagles.
Brown has impressed in camp so far, but so has Lewis. Preseason will go a long way in determining whether Lewis keeps the No. 2 role and whether Polk keeps his spot on the roster.
Two of the three base linebacker spots look to be solidified as DeMeco Ryans is set at middle and Mychal Kendricks in slotted at strong.
But Weakside Linebacker looks to be up for grabs.
Brian Rolle, a 2011 sixth-round pick, became the starting WILL in Week 4 of 2011 and registered 63 tackles and one sack, but Jamar Chaney will still be given an opportunity to battle his way back into the starting lineup after leading the Eagles in tackles with 104 and adding three interceptions in 2011, working mostly as middle linebacker.
This is going to come down to who has the better preseason, as both players have shown they can handle being in the starting lineup and producing.
No. 3 Cornerback
It's obvious who the starting cornerbacks are (Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie).
But one of the more interesting battles is for the No. 3 cornerback job.
In some base formations, DRC and Asomugha have worked on the outside.
But there were times where Asomugha would work inside against the Tight End, and Curtis Marsh would line up on the outside.
Marsh appeared in seven games in 2011 after two seasons at corner for Utah State after being converted from running back.
Still in the running is Joselio Hanson, now in his seventh season with the Eagles.
Hanson played in all 16 games, starting one, and registered 35 tackles last season.
You also have rookie fourth-round pick Brandon Boykin, as well as sleeper players to watch such as Cliff Harris, Trevard Lindley and Brandon Hughes.
Probably the closest battle of all the positions is at strong safety, between Kurt Coleman, a seventh-round pick in 2010, and Jaiquawn Jarrett, a 2011 second-round pick.
Coleman led the Eagles with four interceptions and was second on the team with 96 tackles in 15 games played, 13 started, in his first year as starting strong safety.
Jarrett played in 12 games, starting two, and totaled 22 tackles as a rookie.
Coleman looks to have a slight lead on Jarrett, but an impressive preseason can possibly elevate Jarrett into the starting lineup opposite Nate Allen.
Yes, the Eagles will even have a competition at the punter position. Chas Henry had a respectable rookie season, posting a punt average of almost 43 yards and a net of almost 37 yards, including nine touchbacks and landing 19 punts inside the 20.
However, the Eagles recently signed former Cowboys punter Mat McBriar, entering his eight NFL season, and who ranks fifth in all-time punt average.
McBriar punted for an average of almost 44 yards in 2011, with a net of just over 36 yards in 14 games.
What's also interesting is that McBriar is currently listed as the starting punter on the depth chart, as well as the holder for field goals.
Plain and simple, whoever has the better preseason will stay, the other is out.
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