With camps starting to get under way around the league, I thought this would be a great time to explore some of the position battles we might see play out during the Philadelphia Eagles preseason – since, as we all know, it’s about the only exciting part of the preseason.
Number Four Wide Receiver
There is very little question in Eagle’s country about who the top three wide receivers are. DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Jason Avant have those spots locked up. However, on a team with a lot of speed, we’re bound to see considerable four-wide receiver sets. Last year, the Eagles had a bit of a platoon at that spot and never seemed to settle on one person to take the job. Riley Cooper was the main guy at the four-spot last season, but he struggles to be the red zone option the Eagles need in that spot. Marvin McNutt was a steal in the sixth round of the draft and he could challenge Cooper for the spot. McNutt is a lot like Cooper, but he seems to have better instincts when a ball is thrown his way. As I’ve already mentioned, there is a lot of talent on the field in front of McNutt. With Avant, Maclin, and Jackson on the field, adding McNutt would make for a great target in the red zone to exploit inevitable one-on-one matchups.
If you haven’t been keeping up on your Eagles news, you may think this is a dumb question. Jason Peters is considered by many to be the best left tackle in football; too bad for us, he ruptured his Achilles and probably won’t play this season. That leaves a huge hole at one of the most important positions on the field. The Eagles signed Demetress Bell this spring, but he’s always had issues staying healthy. He seems like he would fit nicely into the Eagles scheme, but with injury issues, it’s hard to say if he’s our guy. King Dunlap would seem to be the Eagles only other option at the spot. Dunlap has performed well for the Eagles in spot starts, even shutting down Jon Abraham last season. The Eagles have concerns at a few places on the field, but the left tackle spot may prove to be the biggest concern of them all if they can’t find someone to replace Peters.
While it looks like newly drafter Nick Foles will have the third-string job firmly wrapped up, there’s no real answer yet for who will be the second-string guy behind Michael Vick. Trent Edwards was signed to a one-year deal this offseason and he will have the opportunity to battle it out with Mike Kafka for that right. Kafka played twice in relief of Vick last season. He was good one time and overwhelmed, to put it gently, the second time. All Eagles fans know that Michael Vick is slightly injury prone and the backup quarterback spot will be an important one for the Birds this year.
Weak Side Linebacker
It’s no secret that the Eagles didn’t have good linebackers last season. With the addition of DeMeco Ryans, they should have a little more wiggle room. Obviously, weak side linebacker isn’t the most important position on defense because they don’t see as many snaps as everyone else. Casey Matthews, Jamar Chaney, and Brain Rolle will probably be fighting for the spot. My favorite for the position is Rolle because of the skills he showed while he was starting last season. He is a very small linebacker at only 5’10”, but he plays bigger than his size. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matthews move to the middle linebacker spot behind Ryans and Chaney get the backup spot behind Rolle.
According to most depth charts, this is Kurt Coleman’s position for Philadelphia. I don’t think that’s going to be true at the end of training camp. Coleman is too small and he has a strong tendency to struggle in pass coverage and open-field tackles. Those are two pretty important skills for a strong safety. Jaiquawn Jarret played well in his few opportunities last year and, with a full training camp this season, I expect him to win the starting job eventually. He is a great vocal leader and he knows how to play the position. Two pretty key ingredients for a safety, and two things the Eagles have missed at the position since Brian Dawkins departed.
I know…you’re excited to read about punting. It doesn’t seem all that important, and the Eagles didn’t draft a punter, but they did sign undrafted free agent Ryan Tydlacka to compete with incumbent Chas Henry. Henry didn’t have a great season last year and he has an extremely slow delivery that could open him up to blocked punts. Tydlacka had a productive year with Kentucky in college last season and he could give Henry a real run for his money this summer.
That’s all I’ve got for now, if you have any more position battles you think will impact the season, feel free to write me or leave a comment! Thanks for all the support you’ve shown to Eagles101 and SportsMedia101. Keep coming back, and spread the word!
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