Philadelphia Eagles: Recapping the Latest Buzz Heading into Training Camp
With the opening of training camp still two weeks away for the Philadelphia Eagles, we are right in the thick of the dead zone on the NFL calendar. By and large, the only real news being made around the league this time of year is the bad kind that’s made off the field.
Having said that, virtually everybody around the league, from the players and coaching staff to the fans and writers, is chomping at the bit to report to camp. Even when it’s a slow time, the heart of the NFL is always beating.
So as we try to get through these final quiet days together, now seems like a good time to check in with the latest buzz surrounding the Eagles. There isn’t much happening, but in case you need a fix, here is a sampling of the biggest ongoing stories.
LeSean McCoy Voted Fifth-Best Player in the NFL
The NFL Network wrapped up its annual Top 100 countdown of the best players in the league on Wednesday, and no surprise, there was high praise for LeSean McCoy among his peers. The reigning rushing champion was voted the fifth-best player in all of pro football, up from No. 45 in 2013.
McCoy’s distinction as one of the top players should come as no surprise. He was named a first-team All-Pro for the second time in three seasons after finishing with a league-best 2,147 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns.
Of course, what truly sets Shady apart from other backs is his elusive ability. Multiple players who spoke to the Network likened McCoy to Hall of Famer Barry Sanders, one of the toughest ball-carriers to tackle of all time.
“The first guy's always gonna miss, the second guy's gonna miss him, possibly the third guy's gonna miss. So all 11 guys gotta run to the football.”
“Sometimes, all 11 guys miss.”
McCoy will surely be happy with being voted the fifth-best player in the league, only with one caveat. Minnesota Vikings back Adrian Peterson came in fourth, and Shady has made it no secret who he believes to be the better of the two.
McCoy joined three teammates on the Top 100 list: left tackle Jason Peters (67), quarterback Nick Foles (70) and right guard Evan Mathis (88).
Jordan Matthews Following in Footsteps of Elite Receivers
Rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews is 6’3”, 212 pounds. According to NFL.com, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.46 seconds and completed 21 reps in the bench press at the scouting combine. Over his final two seasons at Vanderbilt, Matthews racked up 206 receptions for 2,800 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Matthews could probably keep up whatever he’s been doing and attain success in the NFL—but, apparently, that’s not good enough. Tim McManus for Philadelphia Magazine writes that the second-round pick is currently training with Tom Bender, who works with All-Pro wideouts such as Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions, Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos and A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bender Performance Institute offers a comprehensive training program that ranges from body diagnostics and development to speed and strength training to on-field work.
For the latter, Bender uses the talent at his disposal to help in the evaluation process. That means that Johnson, Green and company have been actively critiquing Matthews' game since he arrived.
"I get feedback from Calvin, I get feedback from Demaryius, I get feedback from A.J. just on how he is looking," said Bender. "How is he disguising his routes? Is he not disguising his routes? And then functionally, how is he maintaining his body position...How is he getting off the line? How is he accelerating? Is he too full-throttle at the beginning?
"From the defensive backs to the linebackers, the d-ends, the quarterback, the receiver, everybody is giving feedback on what they see. I try to create an environment where it's not competition but everybody is helping each other get better."
Matthews has received his fair share of hype since his arrival in Philly, but it’s not hard to understand why. He simply refuses to be outworked, a quality that should take him far at the next level.
Eagles Check out Massive Rookie Nose Tackle
The NFL will hold the supplemental draft on Thursday, and the Eagles have shown interest in one of the four players who are eligible. According to the web site NFL Draft Diamonds (via Jimmy Kempski for Philly.com), Philadelphia’s front office was one of 12 from around the league that was represented at the pro day for nose tackle LaKendrick Ross.
No need to be embarrassed if you’ve never heard of the kid before. After all, he most recently played college ball for Division III Virginia University of Lynchburg. Despite coming from such a tiny school, though, Ross managed to generate a little buzz for himself—and all he had to do was weigh in.
Ross reportedly measured 6’4”, 366 pounds.
It remains to be seen how serious the Birds’ level of interest is. The club used a third-round pick on Bennie Logan in the 2013 draft and appear content moving forward with him as the starting nose tackle. The Eagles also spent a seventh-rounder on Beau Allen this year, and the rookie is expected to serve as Logan’s backup, provided he makes the final roster.
So the Eagles probably won’t invest another pick in Ross on Thursday, since he’s a relatively unknown and undoubtedly very raw prospect who would have trouble cracking the roster. However, if Ross goes undrafted, he becomes a free agent, at which point the Eagles have nothing to lose. We’ll see whether anything comes from their interest.
No News on Lane Johnson…Yet
Ever since Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News reported Lane Johnson was facing a four-game suspension for PEDs, most of us who follow the Eagles have been going about our business like it’s a done deal. However, it’s worth noting that neither the team nor league office has made any announcement confirming the story.
That being said, don’t get your hopes up that nothing is going to come of this for the second-year right tackle. Tim McManus for Philadelphia Magazine explains why it may be only a matter of time before Johnson’s sentence is officially handed down.
Per the rulebook, an independent administrator contacts the player about a positive result. The player has five days to notify the administrator if he wishes to have the "B" sample test observed by a qualified toxicologist.
It can be another week before the "B" sample test is initiated. If there is a confirmed positive, the administrator will contact the league office and the players association about its findings. Once the league gets word, it makes an announcement.
It is possible that Johnson is still going through this process, hence why the NFL has no information in front of them.
McManus adds that Johnson would have five days to appeal any suspension that’s awarded, but you have to believe if that second test comes back positive, the league has caught him red-handed. One way or the other, we should know Johnson’s status for the regular season by the time training camp gets underway.