As training camp wears on and the preseason opener draws nearer, CSNPhilly's Derrick Gunn takes stock of which Eagles are trending upward and which Eagles are trending downward.
RB Wendell Smallwood
With LeGarrette Blount missing most of the week due to personal reasons (he told us it was family related), Smallwood took advantage of Blount's absence. In full-contact drills, Smallwood ran with authority — hitting holes, breaking tackles and running away from pursuers. He was especially impressive in the goal-line scrimmage. Smallwood is performing the way an RB who is unsure of his status on the team should — like his roster spot depends on every carry he gets. While the second-year player has the advantage on rookies right now, Smallwood is smart enough to know he cannot have any setbacks with guys like Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement hot on his trail.
LB Nathan Gerry
Going into training camp, the question was could the rookie make the transition from safety to linebacker? So far, the answer is yes. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said this of Gerry: "He has responded to every challenge put in front of him. When we had some of those live-contact practices is when he's showed up the most. You expect him to be good in coverage, but he's played very tough and physical. He's been assignment sound."
DT Tim Jernigan
If Jernigan continues to play the way he has up to this point, he will make people forget about Bennie Logan in a hurry. Mentally tough and technically sound is the best way to describe Jernigan right now. When it's late in practice and the temperature is hovering around 90 degrees and you're rushing the passer, it has to come from somewhere other than physical strength. It becomes more mental to push yourself through. So far, Jernigan has shown his mental makeup equals his physical attributes.
S Corey Graham
How much does the 32-year-old Graham, who was recently signed, have left in the tank? Schwartz, who was with Graham one year in Buffalo, calls him a multidimensional DB. The Eagles will initially insert the 10-year veteran at safety, but he can also player corner and nickel. At 6-foot, 196 pounds, Graham has the ability to match up with WRs and TEs. Coaches referred to him as reliable. That's not a word we've heard coaches use when talking about some of the other secondary personnel.
Are the Eagles' starting CBs on the roster right now? Last week, Patrick Robinson told me he's only a quarter of where he wants to be. That's not what you want to hear from a guy who's projected to be counted on heavily. Jalen Mills, C.J. Smith, Aaron Grymes have youth on their side, but you can understand why coaches might be a little nervous. None of them have found that measure of consistency yet. Schwartz says he needs consistency from the whole group and he's very interested to see how the CB competition unfolds. He's looking for playmakers.
WR Shelton Gibson
Sunday during an open practice session at Lincoln Financial Field, Gibson made a couple of tough leaping catches that drew applause from the crowd and some welcomed encouragement from his teammates. He can use every positive he can get because it has been an up-and-down camp for Gibson. His numerous dropped passes in practices are not going to help his cause. There are only so many WRs this team can keep and, if Gibson doesn't find his groove, he's only helping the decision makers make their choices easier.