It's been an interesting week in Philadelphia. Three stories, each with different impacts for the team, made headlines.
Sheppard to Play Wide Receiver? It's Not THAT Crazy…
Earlier in the week, ESPN reported that cornerback Lito Sheppard would be used in certain offensive packages as a wide receiver. According to the news outlet, Sheppard has been lobbying for this for years.
This may seem unusual at first, but it makes sense for several reasons. First and foremost, it is a step to keep Sheppard happy.
At the end of the season, the two-time Pro Bowler began grumbling about his contract situation. After the Eagles signed former Patriots cornerback Asante Samuel in free agency, Sheppard was demoted from his right cornerback position. It seemed that Sheppard was all but gone.
After the dust from the draft settled, the Eagles still had Sheppard on the roster, which is not exactly a bad thing. With Samuel and Sheppard starting, the Eagles have arguably the best cornerback tandem in the NFL.
Secondly, allowing Sheppard to play offense will bring even more speed to an offense that is already looking very fast.
The Eagles picked up two speedsters on draft weekend. First, the Eagles drafted Cal's DeSean Jackson in the second round. While quite small by NFL standards (he insists he is six feet and 175 pounds,) Jackson makes up for his size with raw speed.
The Eagles then made a trade for Lorenzo Booker, the former Dolphins' running back. Booker was brought in to spell Westbrook, as well as to provide matchup problems when both backs are on the field at the same time.
Adding Sheppard to the mix should create headaches for defensive coordinators. Besides, it is always worth trying to keep your Pro Bowl corners happy.
Jason Taylor: Insert Dancing With the Stars Pun Here
Adam Schefter of the NFL Network has reported that the Eagles are one of five teams interested in acquiring Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor.
The Dolphins have been playing hardball with Taylor since his decision to skip the offseason workouts in Miami to join ABC's Dancing With the Stars. New head coach Tony Sparano has all but indicated that Taylor is not in the Dolphins' plans for 2008.
"I know that Jason is not going to be in any minicamps, and I know that right now Jason is not going to be at training camp." Sparano said.
The Taylor-to-Philadelphia scenario is an interesting one for several reasons.
At 33, many teams question whether Taylor truly wants to play football. His participation on Dancing does little to silence these fears.
The Eagles are famous for cutting veteran players who have passed their prime. Jeremiah Trotter, Takeo Spikes, and Jevon Kearse are all prime examples of players the Eagles' front office has let walk in the last two years.
Of the three players, only Kearse is currently employed.
However, Taylor has had a series of impressive seasons recently. He was named Defensive Player of the Year for 2006, and racked up 11 sacks last season.
Also, it is no secret that Andy Reid loves linemen. Over the last nine seasons, the Eagles have drafted a lineman with the top pick five times. Of them, only Jerome McDougle has failed to catch on with the team in some capacity.
The situation is one worth watching. Taylor has said he is open to a trade, although he denies reports that his camp asked for one from the Dolphins.
Regardless, minicamps begin in Miami on Friday. Both sides have said Taylor will not be reporting. It remains to be seen what will happen instead.
Ready to Go: Eagles Sign Rookie Demps
The Eagles took a positive step in the right direction this week, signing rookie safety Quentin Demps to a four year deal. Terms of the deal are not yet available.
The rookie out of Texas El-Paso was known in college as a ballhawk, collecting more interceptions than any other player in his draft class.
Demps is the likely successor to All Pro free safety Brian Dawkins, who will likely hang up his pads within the next two seasons. Despite expectations, Demps is trying to stay true to himself. "Brian Dawkins is one of the best safeties ever," Demps said. "I'm a rookie trying to make the team."
The rookie will also be competing on special teams for the kickoff returner position. In all likelihood, it will come down to Demps or fellow rookie DeSean Jackson.