Philadelphia Eagles: What We've Learned Through Week 3 of Training Camp
The Philadelphia Eagles' first preseason game is complete, and like usual, it was a pretty sloppy game.
The Eagles only lost 34-28, but they were out of sync on offense—especially quarterback Nick Foles, whose two interceptions equaled his entire 2013 regular-season total, and receiver Jordan Matthews, who dropped three passes.
Luckily for the Eagles, they have three more preseason games and a bunch of practices to correct their mistakes.
The following slides will highlight six things we've learned about a number of players so far in the three weeks of training camp.
Mark Sanchez Has the Backup Spot All but Locked Up
Last year's quarterback battle was for the starting job, as veteran Michael Vick edged out second-year player Nick Foles. Rookie Matt Barkley, easily the least impressive of the group, entered the season third on the depth chart.
After Foles' dominance in 2013, there's no need for a quarterback competition. The job belongs to him. The big question, however, is which player will be his backup.
Expect the competition to be over pretty soon.
Sanchez has been far more impressive in camp and was terrific in the first preseason game against the Chicago Bears, leading a pair of scoring drives in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Barkley really struggled, completing just seven of 16 passes for a touchdown and an interception. He needed to separate himself from Sanchez in the first meaningful action this summer to have any chance at earning the No. 2 spot. He did exactly the opposite.
The competition is still ongoing, but Sanchez has the backup spot virtually locked up—as he should.
Jordan Matthews May Not Be Jerry Rice...Yet
You might want to slow down the "Jordan Matthews for the Hall of Fame" hype train, at least for another week or two.
It was as disappointing of a rookie debut as you could get for the second-round pick. Although Matthews has been absolutely dominant in training camp, he looked lost on the football field against the Chicago Bears on Friday night.
Matthews caught just four passes for 14 yards. His longest catch went for five yards. He recorded zero yards after the catch. Moreover, he dropped three balls, including one that bounced off his face.
Luckily for Matthews, there are three more preseason games and many more practices before the season starts. A month from now, Matthews' inauspicious debut will be completely forgotten.
Ifeanyi Momah Could Actually Make the Roster
Remember the Ifeanyi Momah hype during training camp last season? It was out of control. The 6'7" wide receiver with blazing speed instantly became a fan favorite when, in reality, the reasons Momah had gone undrafted were an ACL injury that prevented almost all of his senior year and a lack of football talent.
This offseason, Momah has really stepped up his game. He's learned how to use his size and reach to make spectacular catches in practice. He even caught a pair of passes in the preseason loss to the Bears.
It's still a long shot for Momah to make the team. The first four receivers—Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper and Josh Huff—are locks, while veterans Brad Smith, Arrelious Benn and Jeff Maehl are all ahead of Momah on the depth chart.
He's going to need to really distinguish himself to make this team, and even if he does, he'll be expected to produce on special teams rather than on the offensive side of the ball.
A more realistic option for Momah is a year on the practice squad, which he did not make last season.
Zach Ertz: Legitimate Breakout Candidate in 2014
Everywhere you look, Zach Ertz is being pegged as a potential breakout candidate this season.
Personally, I believe that Ertz has a lot of potential. I'm just not sure how many catches he'll make for a run-heavy offense with so many legitimate receiving weapons.
But if the first preseason game is any indication, Ertz is going to get his fair share of targets in 2014. He caught four balls for 60 yards, and this is in a game where the Eagles spread the ball around to 17 different players.
Although technically listed behind Brent Celek on the depth chart, Ertz could catch 50, 60, even 70 balls this year. The hype looks to be legitimate.
Beau Allen Should Easily Make the Roster
Last year's rookie, Bennie Logan, has added 15 pounds this offseason and has himself firmly entrenched as the starting nose tackle heading into 2014.
The competition for the backup spot will come down to Damion Square, an undrafted rookie free agent from last year, and Beau Allen, the team's seventh-round draft choice this past spring.
Square failed to distinguish himself on the field last year, and he certainly had his chance when the Eagles traded away veteran Isaac Sopoaga midseason. However, Logan clearly outplayed Square in the second half of the season.
Thus far in camp, it's been Allen thoroughly outplaying Square.
Although Square blocked a field goal in the preseason opener, it was Allen who made a number of plays in the middle of the field, as he's done for the last few weeks.
After the game, Chip Kelly singled out Allen for his work as a pass-rusher. The heaviest player on the Eagles' roster, Allen appears to have a big advantage over Square for the top backup spot.
Vinny Curry as the Top Defensive Line Backup
It's been two seasons, and Vinny Curry really hasn't gotten much of a chance to show what he can do on a football field despite being selected in the second round in 2012.
Curry was inactive for the first 10 games of the 2012 season and failed to collect a sack in the season's final six weeks.
He was tremendous in the preseason opener against the Bears, recording a sack and tackle for loss. Firmly entrenched as the top backup defensive end, I wouldn't be surprised to see Curry emerge as a starter at defensive end next to Fletcher Cox.
Nate Allen Ahead of Earl Wolff for Starting Role
The battle for the No. 2 cornerback spot between Bradley Fletcher and Nolan Carroll is receiving a lot of hype among the fanbase.
But don't forget about the battle for the starting safety spot opposite Malcolm Jenkins.
Veteran Nate Allen, brought back in free agency on a one-year deal, will compete with second-year pro Earl Wolff.
Right now, it's Allen who has distinguished himself on the football field. He recorded five tackles and added an interception against the Bears, earning the top defensive grade on the team, per Pro Football Focus.
Tommy Lawlor of ScoutsNotebook suggests Allen has noticeably improved as a tackler. He could even be in line for a breakout season, as he'll finally play under the same defensive coordinator in consecutive years.
Josh Huff as Top Kick Returner
He's really not going to get much of a chance to show what he can do on the offensive side of the ball, barring an injury. As such, Josh Huff made the most of his opportunity by establishing himself as a legitimate weapon on special teams.
Huff returned a kick 102 yards for a touchdown against the Bears. The Eagles haven't scored a regular-season kick return touchdown since 2008.
If Huff keeps displaying big-play potential as a returner, he'll still get to touch the ball two or three times every game—just not as a receiver.