As the Eagles' 2016 training camp draws near, Dave Zangaro takes a look at five position battles that will be decided this summer. We've already looked at kicker and cornerback. Today is left guard.
The Eagles filled their biggest need this offseason when they signed Brandon Brooks to a long-term deal. He'll take over for Matt Tobin at right guard, which will be a huge improvement. That means that the left tackle (Jason Peters), center (Jason Kelce), right guard (Brooks) and right tackle (Lane Johnson) spots are set in stone.
That brings us to left guard. Allen Barbre is the incumbent starter and head coach Doug Pederson didn't waste any time naming Barbre the starter this spring.
"Right now it is Allen Barbre's job, and I think again that's something we did through the draft and a little bit of free agency is to kind of shore up that spot," Pederson said in May. "I really like where we're at. I like the depth at that position right now. But yeah, Allen Barbre is my guy and he's our starter."
It was a little surprising Pederson was so quick to name Barbre the starter for a couple reasons. Their names are Stefen Wisniewski and Isaac Seumalo.
The Eagles signed Wisniewski to a one-year, $1.51 million deal in the offseason. Just after he signed, Wisniewski was pretty forthcoming during his press conference, saying he was disappointed to not get a long-term deal. No, he's never been a Pro Bowl player, but Wisniewski has started in all 77 games he's played in the NFL since being drafted in the second round in 2011. Wisniewski is clearly not happy about his backup status. “I definitely am trying to start somewhere,” he said this spring. “I think I would be a good starting left guard.”
Seumalo was the Eagles' third-round pick in the draft and is already behind. Because of the NCAA graduation rule, the rookie missed all of OTAs and the mandatory minicamp. That's valuable time for a rookie, especially one who has a chance to start. He'll have to play catch-up in order to overtake both Wisniewski and Barbre. "I definitely think that will be tough for him," Barbre said about Seumalo's game of catch-up.
Coming up Thursday: Wide receiver