6 Philadelphia Eagles Who Need Training Camp to Start on Time
Proven NFL veterans can afford to miss time at training camp.
Players who are bouncing back from injury, competing for a job or finding themselves in their first year of the league cannot afford to miss anything.
Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles asked rookies and select veterans to report to camp on Monday, July 26. The rest of the squad didn't have to show up at Lehigh University until Saturday, July 31.
When camp finally broke on Aug. 17, the players and coaches had nearly a month of practice and one preseason game in the books. They also had three more preseason games in hand.
The NFL lockout could change all of that in a big way.
If things take a drastic turn for the worst, the NFL schedule may be reduced to eight games, according to ProFootballTalk.
The site goes on to talk about free agency, training camp and the preseason being truncated to a mere five-week window.
Regardless of how likely this is to occur, it gives us an idea about what the NFL may be forced to do if a deal does not get done soon. We may see some of the training camp and preseason schedule get cut.
Fans won't necessarily mind it because their favorite teams and players will still be out there. But for a select group of Philadelphia Eagles, they need all the time and preparation they can get.
It's tempting to take the entire offensive line and say they all need a full training-camp schedule.
In an effort to single someone out, Danny Watkins gets the nod.
At 26, his age really doesn't matter at this point in his career and should not be a major reason why he needs training camp to get underway on time. His biggest issue is a lack of experience.
Watkins played four years of college football. Two of those came at Baylor where he started in 2009 and 2010. The previous two seasons were spent at Butte College in Canada.
It's unlikely to find a Canadian college football expert, so can we assume Butte College is not a hotbed for NFL talent?
He certainly has the physical tools to play the game, as he is listed around 6'3" and somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 pounds.
Without a complete training camp Watkins may not learn the intricacies of the Eagles offense and he may not gel well enough with the rest of the offensive line. Everyone saw the beating Michael Vick took last season and how the offensive line contributed to it.
A first-round draft pick with limited experience may be the poster child for why training camp needs to start as scheduled.
Oh, how the Eagles desperately need Casey Matthews.
Forget about his football lineage for a moment and focus on what he can actually bring to the table.
Matthews has the potential to push some veterans and compete for a starting spot at linebacker. Without a full training camp, Matthews will lose out on the opportunity to put some heat on one of the weakest corps of the team.
The rookie from Oregon also brings the ability to hit someone.
It may not sound like a lot at first. But when you consider how soft the Eagles defense was in 2010, they need someone who can actually let the opposition know it could be dangerous to cross the middle of the field.
The fact he is undersized does not matter because he knows how to hit people.
Let's be honest, though. He was knocking a bunch of people around at the college level where the speed of the game is obviously slower. Take away a full training camp and it leaves Matthews behind the eight ball if and when the season starts.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mike Kafka has a legitimate shot to be the backup.
If Kevin Kolb gets traded, the Eagles will bring in a veteran washed-up quarterback who may not know the Eagles' system too well.
With a year under his belt, Kafka may actually have an advantage over a quarterback the Eagles bring in. The only thing Kafka needs is a legitimate opportunity to prove his worth.
There is a chance a complete training camp will expose Kafka, but he can't think like that. He should be on his hands and knees praying to get camp underway so he can show Reid he is ready to be the man who is one play away from stepping onto the field for Michael Vick.
How comfortable will the fans feel about that?
That's something to talk about later.
The next two players need to prove they are healthy and ready to make the next step in their career.
First up is Nate Allen.
Last year he showed signs of being a solid playmaker in the secondary. He wasn't consistently getting beat on the blitz with the deep ball and he even showed signs of being a tough player.
The only problem was his season ended with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee.
Will he have the same speed? Can he still make plays? Will he be hesitant to make contact?
No one knows including Allen.
If the answer is yes to any of those questions, there is no doubt training camp can provide a solution.
Maybe Brandon Graham wasn't utilized properly last year.
The debate can go on for days.
But no one can argue the severity of his injury last season.
Graham is still recovering from his ACL injury and may not be ready for the season opener scheduled for September 11.
So why does he need camp to start and run on time?
Graham needs to work with the team's trainers and actually find out what kind of football shape he is in. Even if he misses camp, he at least needs to be in the team's facilities and have the chance to work with the next man on the list.
Juan Castillo coached the offensive line last year.
This season he is being asked to take the sieve known as the Eagles defense and be the coordinator.
Not only does he have a mess to clean up thanks to Sean McDermott, he won't even know who some of his starters will be.
Is Stewart Bradley going to be around? Are Allen and Graham going to be healthy? Will the players be able to adapt to his system?
A lack of confidence already surrounded Castillo. Can you imagine how panicked the fans will be if he doesn't have a full training camp to work with his unit?