A few random observations after the first few days of Eagles training camp!
• Jim Schwartz was really talking up second-year defensive end Josh Sweat the other day, and he’s certainly one of the more intriguing guys in camp. Here’s Schwartz on Sweat:
We're excited about him. He's long. He can play with some power. He has speed. He's around the passer when he rushes because he's so long. There are a lot of good things with him. He just needs to have a good camp, and I think he's focused to be able to do that.
If Sweat can give the Eagles some meaningful snaps, it would be huge.
• When I heard the Eagles were working out veteran corner Orlando Scandrick on Friday, my first thought was there was no way they were going to sign him. They have plenty of talented young corners, and Scandrick was not good with the Chiefs last year. Then they signed him. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense, especially with Jalen Mills still out, Cre’Von LeBlanc potentially seriously injured and Ronald Darby not yet a full participant.
As promising as Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones are, they’ve started a combined 26 games. Scandrick has started 76. After seeing the Eagles forced to use 10 corners last year, it’s hard to argue with bringing in a healthy, experienced veteran on a make-good contract. If he stinks? He stinks and you cut him, no harm done.
• I can’t get over Brandon Brooks’ recovery from a truly devastating Achilles injury. It’s been just over six months since the Saints game and to see him out at practice, even in a limited role, is a real testament to his tremendous work ethic and determination. It also speaks volumes about his positive mentality. Right from the start, Brooks had an incredibly positive outlook on his injury and recovery, never felt sorry for himself, never asked "Why me?" And that really helps. The guy is such an inspiration.
• I’m a little surprised the Eagles don’t have a second kicker in camp. Jake Elliott was good but not great last year, and he did make that game-winning 61-yarder against the Giants in 2017, but he was one of the worst kickers in the NFL beyond 50 yards last year, going just 2 for 5. The misses were from 53, 54 and 55 yards, so they’re not layups, but the rest of the league was 32 for 50 from 53 to 55 yards last year, or 64 percent. Elliott was 40 percent. Overall, Elliott is at 83.9 percent over the last two years, which is middle of the pack (20th of 37 kickers with 20 or more attempts). He’s obviously got a huge leg, but can he be consistent enough from long range to be the long-term answer? I’m still not positive.
• Here’s an interesting one: Only eight Eagles have started 16 games as rookies over the last 30 years. Seven of them are linemen (Bernard Williams, Barrett Brooks, Tra Thomas, Doug Brzezinski, Jason Kelce, Lane Johnson, Corey Simon). The only rookie in the last 30 years who’s not a lineman to start all 16 games? That would be Carson Wentz.
• One of the popular sideline topics among the beat writers during practice is Corey Clement. There’s a school of thought that with Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard and Darren Sproles guaranteed roster spots, 2018 Eagles rushing leader Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood back from last year and Boston Scott also in the mix, Clement could be a roster casualty.
I say no freaking way. What we saw Clement do down the stretch in 2017 and in the Super Bowl — as an undrafted rookie running back who had barely played during the regular season — can't be forgotten. This is a talented kid, and he’s also the best receiving back on the roster and one of the better blocking backs. He’s not going anywhere.
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