Updating Philadelphia Eagles' Key Position Battles in Training Camp
The bags are packed and the rooms are empty at Philadelphia Eagles training camp. Lehigh University will be missed.
But that doesn’t mean everything has been settled.
A few position battles are ongoing and won’t be resolved until the regular season.
Here’s the latest scoop on who’s got the upper hand.
The first position battle we visit may turn out to be the most important one of all.
It’s no secret that Philadelphia’s Super Bowl aspirations rest squarely on the shoulders of its injury-prone quarterback, Michael Vick. This makes his backup, whether it be Mike Kafka or Nick Foles, a vital clog to the team’s overall success.
Kafka was the prime candidate to take over at the start of spring and summer practice, but ever since his poor performance coincided with injury, Foles has been in control.
With Kafka hurt, Foles has taken over in practice and been running with the second-team unit. However, Kafka remains behind Vick on the latest depth chart and will probably only see regular-season action if the two others can’t go.
It only took six snaps of live action for Howard Mudd to demote Demetress Bell to second-team left tackle, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost.
While Bell looked slow and off-balance when asked to engage Pittsburgh Steelers defensive ends, he’s still learning a very complex blocking scheme. As he narrows the learning curve, things will become more second nature to him and should result in improved play.
As of right now, King Dunlap, who has filled in for the Eagles at both tackle spots for the past four years, is running with the starters.
Dunlap has been serviceable on both sides but doesn’t project well as a long-term solution.
This battle remains unsettled, but fans should be rooting for Bell to prevail.
Backup Running Back
The backup running back battle promised to be a highly contested one heading into camp.
With Dion Lewis entering his sophomore year, it would be up to him to hold off newcomers Bryce Brown and Chris Polk—two very talented players coming out of college.
Lewis didn’t disappoint and put together a solid showing. His ability to make people miss and pick up the blitz are what ultimately gave him the edge against his younger competition.
As of right now, he is firmly entrenched as the No. 2 behind LeSean McCoy and figures to see a healthy amount of touches throughout the season. However, when it comes to goal-line duties, expect Andy Reid to reach a bit deeper on his depth chart.
Sure, the Eagles have the most talent and depth of any NFL defensive line, but there wasn’t really supposed to be much of a competition.
While it had been pretty much established that Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson were going to start on the interior of Philadelphia’s front four, news that Patterson was going to be shut down during the first day of training camp sent worry throughout the organization.
Yet, not all was bad.
With one starting spot up for grabs, Jim Washburn got an extended look at Derek Landri, Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton.
Although the entire trio has been impressive, there has been one who has shined brightest.
Landri separated himself from the others as the spot starter and ranks as one of my biggest winners of training camp. Now, he figures to be the Week 1 starter, even if Patterson is healthy enough to return.
After spending a second-round pick on Jaiquawn Jarrett in the 2011 draft, the Eagles have every reason to cheer him into the starting lineup. However, due to his inability to tackle, pursue and play coverage, Philadelphia has been forced to look at other alternatives.
Thanks to Jarrett’s lackluster play and demotions, Tom Nelson is currently running with the second-team defense.
This all but assures last season’s starter, Kurt Coleman, another starting gig opposite Nate Allen.
Veteran O.J. Atogwe is still playing catch-up and still figures to factor into the equation, but without a firm grasp of the Eagles’ coverage concepts, he won’t be trusted in the line of fire.