4 Philadelphia Eagles Players Feeling the Most Pressure Heading into Camp
The first Chip Kelly-run Philadelphia Eagles training camp will be closely watched, as Kelly is not only bringing in new schemes and strategies, but he has added many additional players to the roster.
More players means more competition and that means someone on the team will be under the hot seat.
In the case of this year's Eagles, many players are feeling pressure. Kelly has challenged not only positions of need, but he has also augmented positions that were regarded as team strengths with superior talent. That means players who struggled and key starters will all be feeling pressure once training camp begins to win their roster battles.
Here are four players who will be feeling the most heat during the summer.
1. Nate Allen
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With the additions of Kenny Philips and Earl Wolff, it would appear that Nate Allen's job is in jeopardy, especially after he struggled greatly in 2012. Despite these acquisitions, Kelly has stressed that this season's training camp will be an open competition, and since Allen still has the chance to win the starting job, he will be under immense pressure to perform in camp.
Allen was selected with a second-round pick in the 2010 draft, the pick that was acquired from the Donovan McNabb trade. Allen is in danger of not only losing a starting role, but he will all but officially labeled a bust if he cannot perform this season.
And it all starts with beating out Kenny Philips in training camp.
2. Michael Vick
Michael Vick is not just competing for the starting job, he is also competing for the rest of his NFL future. Kelly's decision to retain both Nick Foles and draft Matt Barkley shows that he only views Vick as a short-term solution.
But even though Vick has the advantage in experience and athleticism, he will need to battle it out in training camp just like anyone else on the team.
After a stellar 2010 season in which he was the runner-up for the MVP award, Vick struggled in both 2011 and 2012. Now, with a new head coach, Vick has the opportunity to prove that his 2010 season was not a fluke and that he can still succeed given the right scheme and coaching.
But he cannot perform well if he is not the starter. And while he is likely the favorite to win the starting job due to his experience, Vick is still feeling a great deal of pressure because of everything that is at stake.
3. Brent Celek
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It would seem that Celek has asserted himself as the team's starting tight end for years to come, but the Eagles have challenged that notion by bringing in Zach Ertz in the second round.
While it's possible the Eagles are looking mainly to run two tight end sets, such as the formations the Patriots run, it's clear they think very highly of the rookie from Stanford and view him as a long-term fit for the team.
While Celek is a fine pass-catching tight end, Ertz is also incredibly athletic for his size and capable of making acrobatic catches. He could be a dark horse candidate to take over the starting role if Celek is not on his A game.
Celek should have the edge due to his blocking and experience, but Ertz has a higher ceiling than him due to athleticism. This will be a training camp battle worth paying attention to.
4. Dennis Dixon
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While Dixon appeared safe when Kelly first brought him in, mostly due to his experience under Kelly's schemes at Oregon, the drafting of Matt Barkley puts his future with the Eagles in question.
The Eagles now have a four-way quarterback competition, and while keeping all four would not surprise anyone, it would also mean that Dixon is now expendable if the Eagles need to clear roster room space.
The players above Dixon are highly unlikely to be cut. Vick commands a veteran presence and has the most experience. Foles was not dealt despite Vick's re-signing and the drafting of Barkley, showing that the coaching staff still thinks highly of him. Barkley is clearly regarded as a steal in the fourth round by everyone in the Eagles organization.
If any quarterback is to be cut to make space on the roster it would be Dixon. He will have to excel in training camp and convince Kelly to retain him.