Just like that, in the blink of an eye, Philadelphia Eagles training camp ended as quickly as it began.
Some made a positive impression on Andy Reid and will probably earn their way onto the final 53-man roster. Others won’t be so fortunate to share the same light and will have to look for employment elsewhere.
Here are the top three winners and losers of Philadelphia’s summer practice.
Thanks to a fractured hand and lackluster performance suffered by Mike Kafka, it’s Nick Foles who’s in the driver’s seat to becoming the Eagles’ backup quarterback.
Now this doesn’t guarantee he’ll be the first one off the bench come game time, however, it does mean that Foles will have every opportunity to wrestle the job away from his competition.
Andy Reid loves a signal-caller who can throw the deep ball, but the rookie has proven he can do more than just that. In his coming-out party against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Foles displayed a wide variety of skills that have fans screaming for his immediate promotion.
Demetress Bell was signed as a free agent once Jason Peters was deemed out for the entirety of 2012 and is expected to anchor an offensive line returning four starters.
Six preseason snaps later, and he’s already been demoted to second-team duties. His replacement, King Dunlap, a seventh-round pick of 2008, was unable to find a long-term contract after testing free agency, and is now responsible for protecting Michael Vick from the likes of Justin Tuck, DeMarcus Ware and Brian Orakpo.
Although the Eagles have packed their bags and left Lehigh, it’s still not too late for Bell to retake his old position. Fans are quick to forget he’s still learning Howard Mudd’s complex scheme and getting accustomed to blocking for a mobile left-handed quarterback.
Bell still has three practice games to prove his worth, but if he can’t get a grip, expect him to get cut and cost himself a bunch of money in what is essentially a one-year contract.
It's been hard to get a hold of the speedy wide receiver.
On a team with a variety of dynamic playmakers at wide receiver, who would’ve thought an undrafted rookie free agent would be in considerations to make the team?
To say the Eagles are loaded at wideout just might be an understatement, yet Damaris Johnson, the 5’8” receiver out of Tulsa, has impressed in more than one way and figures to play a prominent role in 2012.
At the start of camp it appeared that Johnson’s only shot of making the team would be to cling on as a return specialist. However, the speedster has solidified his roster spot by proving his worth as a pass-catcher.
Johnson’s 70-yard score was a display of great route-running and breakaway speed. If he makes all the way to Week 1, it’ll be no question as to which NFL team fields the most explosive offense.
Antonio Dixon finished the 2010 season as the Eagles’ top run defender and was primed to break out under the tutelage of Jim Washburn.
His pre-existing skills were ideal for Washburn’s aggressive Wide-9 system, and the thought of making him into an adequate pass-rusher would make him a three-down player.
Instead, Dixon suffered from a torn triceps injury in 2011 that forced him to miss a dozen games.
Apparently he hasn’t been the same since then because reports out of training camp have noted him getting easily handled at the point of attack by backup center Julian Vandervelde.
I thought Dixon would use this season to redeem himself and challenge for a Pro Bowl bid, but by the looks of it, he’ll be lucky to even make the roster.
It’s no coincidence that Derek Landri has thrived with the first team while Antonio Dixon has been running with the backups.
He came to training camp openly upset at the lack of interest he received as a free agent and has taken his frustration out on everyone. He’s gotten under the skin of several teammates since summer practice sessions started and has carried that aggressive mentality onto the field.
Ben Roethlisberger was sure to have breathed a sigh of relief once Andy Reid decided to rest his defensive starters because Landri was applying constant pressure.
If Landri can carry his strong play into the regular season, the Eagles should have no problem eclipsing the 50-sack mark they set the previous season.
Jaiquawn Jarrett had been showing flashes of what made him a second-round pick during practice, but failed to carry that momentum onto the playing field.
When playing against live action, Jarrett looked bad. Terribly bad.
He took poor angles on tackles, was lost in pursuit against the run and looked like a traffic cone in coverage.
I had previously noted how Jarrett was on the roster bubble and would need to prove to Juan Castillo that he was ready to handle the pressures of being the last line of defense.
Now without the excuse of a shortened offseason, Jarrett has nowhere to hide.