My 32nd Eagles training camp starts Thursday. That’s eight at West Chester, 17 at Lehigh and now seven at the NovaCare Complex.
Over the next few weeks, some careers will come thudding to an end and others will take unexpected turns.
Somebody we didn’t think had a chance will make the team. Someone else we thought was almost a lock won’t.
It’s always a fascinating time of year, as a 90-man roster drops down to 53.
So here are 10 things I’m looking forward to seeing as camp kicks into gear:
Carson to DeSean
Carson’s never had a receiver like DeSean and DeSean’s never had a quarterback like Carson, or at least not since he played with Donovan McNabb in 2008 and 2009. They clicked at a very high level on deep balls in OTAs. Can’t wait to see how they build on that during camp and into the season.
Miles Sanders vs. Jordan Howard
How far behind is Sanders after missing most of minicamp? How will the reps be distributed between the rookie second-round pick and the accomplished veteran? Where does Corey Clement fit in? The running back position is a fascinating one this summer.
What does Sproles have left?
Now that Darren Sproles is back, it’s going to be interesting to see how much he has left and exactly how the Eagles plan to use him. Is he mainly a punt returner? How much does Doug plan to mix him in on offense? Sproles is 36 now and coming off two injury-plagued seasons. Only six running backs in NFL history 36 or older have had more than 102 yards from scrimmage in a season. It’s always fun having Sproles around, but there are a lot of questions surrounding him.
How will that second group of defensive ends develop?
One of my biggest questions going into camp is what the Eagles have behind Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett. The Eagles are high on Josh Sweat, Vinny Curry can give you reps, Daeshon Hall is a former third-round pick who has half a career sack, Shareef Miller is a rookie and Joe Ostman is a guy Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson love but has no real track record. Going to be a wide-open competition here. Should be fun.
How does cornerback play out?
There are countless ways the Eagles can line these guys up. A lot of it depends on who’s healthy, but I can’t wait to see the competition among Rasul Douglas, Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc.
Sorting out safety
Will be interesting to see how things evolve behind starters Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod. Andrew Sendejo had a strong spring, Blake Countess is a Howie Roseman favorite and we saw some promising things from Tre Sullivan the second half of last year.
What about receiver depth?
Always interesting watching the second group of receivers. Veteran Charles Johnson, former CFL star Marken Michel and third-year pros Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson are all in the mix here. I think CJ2 has a real good shot.
Sorting out linebacker depth
Is Nate Gerry more than just a special teamer? Where do L.J. Fort and Paul Worrilow fit in? Can undrafted rookie T.J. Edwards compete? Lots of questions here.
How does Nate Sudfeld look?
I don’t see any reason Carson Wentz can’t stay healthy for a full season, but the reality is he hasn’t done it the last two years, and the Eagles’ opening-day quarterback has made it through 16 starts just five times in the last 28 years (McNabb in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2008 and Wentz in 2016). With Nick Foles in Jacksonville, a lot of eyes will be on Sudfeld at camp. How will he respond?
How will the new coaches do?
Philip Daniels is the Eagles’ third defensive line coach in five years and Carson Walch is the fifth receivers coach in five years. Curious to see how both fit in with their new roles, both coaching some accomplished veterans and promising youngsters.
Can JJ Arcega-Whiteside elbow his way into the WR mix?
You figure there won’t be many receiver reps to go around with Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and DeSean Jackson. But Arcega-Whiteside was so impressive in OTAs I think Doug has to find a role for him, especially at the goal-line. Can’t wait to see if he can build on the promise he showed in the spring over the next few weeks.
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