Ultimately, in most training camps, only about a dozen players either gain or lose enough traction for their careers to change shape in a significant way. The majority of these guys simply prepare for the season without much fanfare or criticism.
But for several players every year, training camp either makes or breaks their football lives. Starting with the Philadelphia Eagles, let's look at the clear 2012 camp winners and losers in the NFC East.
The undrafted rookie out of Tulsa stood out as a receiver and as a return man. He was used heavily in the first preseason game, which is an indication the Eagles are strongly considering finding a spot for him. And he performed well, making four grabs for 85 yards to go along with a touchdown and some nice punt returns.
He wasn't necessarily dominating in camp, but a huge preseason opener against Pittsburgh and an injury to Mike Kafka means it's automatically been a winning stretch for the rookie third-round pick out of Arizona.
It might not be enough to get him on the team, but Polk flashed versatility that simply isn't possessed by fellow reserve backs Dion Lewis and Bryce Brown, exhibiting his ability to pick up blitzes and block like a champ. Not bad for an undrafted rookie.
With so many injuries up front in camp, the Eagles got to show off their defensive line depth the last few weeks. And no D-lineman stepped up like Landri did. The six-year veteran was cast aside after camp last year and signed back only after Antonio Dixon was injured.
This year, the aggressive defensive tackle has performed so well in camp and the preseason that he's currently working with the first-teamers.
For the second year in a row, DRC has looked strong in training camp. Early in the month, Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News called him "a daily star" of camp. We've heard less about him of late, but that's often a good thing when we're talking about cornerbacks.
The offensive tackle performed quite decently in limited reps last year, and now he's been good enough in camp to at least temporarily supplant Demetress Bell as the team's starting left tackle.
After a subpar run at OTAs, the backup tight end had what offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg described as a "superb" training camp. Considering that starter Brent Celek was hurt for the majority of camp, Harbor has taken a big step forward this month.
He didn't do anything to stand out in practice, and now a terrible performance in the preseason opener has people wondering if the former second-round pick is a draft bust. With Oshiomogho Atogwe in town now, there's a decent chance Jarrett doesn't even make the final roster.
The Will spot is still his to lose, but Rolle struggled as the starter in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh. A Jamar Chaney injury gave him this opportunity, yet I think Chaney will likely end up gaining more reps going forward.
Kafka actually drew positive reviews for much of his camp work, but a bad performance in the preseason opener combined with a broken non-throwing hand and a great outing from third-stringer Nick Foles is enough to get him on the loser list.
By most indications, it's taking Bell quite some time to get acclimated to Howard Mudd's line. He was brought in to replace All-Pro Jason Peters, but he's struggled in camp and the preseason. Now, he's been replaced in the starting lineup by Dunlap.
OK, this isn't really Celek's fault, and it probably won't affect him too much right now anyway, but Celek missed nine days of camp due to a sprained MCL. And while he was down, Harbor looked great. If anything, this just means we'll see more two-tight end sets, which could mean fewer grabs for Celek.
I guess it's a good sign that there were more winners than losers, but it's also unfortunate to see two 2011 draft picks on the loser list. There's time for Jarrett and Rolle to bounce back, though, and Kafka and Bell are in the same boat. Considering that Celek is undoubtedly still the starter, the Eagles have very little to be upset about when looking back on camp.
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