The Eagles will finally be playing football this week. Sort of.
Tuesday morning marks the beginning of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), the first time most of the 2017 Eagles will be on the field together.
While OTAs are technically voluntary, the Eagles — and every other team — will have near-perfect attendance. For the Birds, that will include Brandon Graham, who was reportedly set to holdout, but rejoined the team just a few days after leaving (see story).
The Eagles will have a few rounds of OTAs (May 23-25, May 30-June 1, June 5-6, 8-9) leading up to the mandatory minicamp in mid-June. The mandatory minicamp runs from June 12-15. After that, the team is off until training camp.
Thanks to the CBA, there are strict rules for what teams are allowed to do during OTAs. Players wear helmets but aren't allowed to wear pads, which means no contact. Also no 1-on-1 drills, but 11 on 11s are allowed. So there's at least some competition.
Annual yearly warning: Be wary the stories of greatness from players in shorts in May.
Last year, there were a ton of juicy storylines with a new coaching staff, a No. 2 pick quarterback and the Sam Bradford drama. By comparison, this year is boring, but the Eagles never lack drama.
Here's what to watch this year:
A new No. 17
The Eagles' biggest free-agent acquisition will be on the team for his first full-team practice. Alshon Jeffery is the type of receiver the Eagles desperately needed. He'll immediately become Carson Wentz's No. 1 weapon this season.
So Tuesday will offer a first look at Jeffery and the other new pickups, including Torrey Smith, Timmy Jernigan and LeGarrette Blount.
During rookie minicamp a couple weeks ago, third-rounder Rasul Douglas said he was looking forward to lining up across from Jeffery this week. He'll finally get his chance.
Carson in Year 2
This time last year, Wentz was the Eagles' third-string quarterback, preparing for a redshirt rookie season.
Now, he's the not just the starter but the young leader of the team and the face of the franchise. While he was already seemingly in command of the huddle as a rookie, expect him to continue to grow into his leadership role. Sometimes these things just take time. But he is already one of the unquestioned leaders of the team.
Also, we'll see if there's any notable difference in his mechanics after working out with QB guru Adam Dedeaux this offseason. The main thing they worked on was footwork. We'll see if it helps limit the number of throws Wentz sails — perhaps his biggest issue as a rookie.
We won't be able to learn a heckuva a lot from watching practices because football isn't meant to be played in shirts and no pads, but we will at least get to see who lines up with who.
Because 11 on 11s are allowed, we'll get a glimpse of what the first, second and third teams look like. Will Allen Barbre start off as the first-team left guard? Who is the starting defensive end opposite Brandon Graham and on which side? Is LeGarrette Blount ready to run with the ones?
Kelce and Kendricks
Jason Kelce and Mychal Kendricks are still on the roster after plenty of speculation this offseason that they'll be gone. And there's still a chance one or both could be traded.
To their credit, both have been very professional throughout this process and both have been at the facility this spring. It's a part of the business, but it has to be a little weird to show up to work every day knowing you might be dealt.
Hopefully, they'll make themselves available to answer a few questions.
While Sidney Jones is still recovering from his Achilles tear, even if he wasn't, he wouldn't be allowed at the facility this week. Jones and his college teammate Elijah Qualls went to the University of Washington, which operates on a quarters system.
It's a stupid rule, but the NFL doesn't allow players who went to schools on quarters systems to be in voluntary camps until they graduate. That might not seem like a huge deal, but for a guy like Qualls, who has a chance to fight for a roster spot, the time missed could be devastating.
Last offseason, two undrafted tackles had a chance to make the team — Destiny Vaeao and Aziz Shittu — but only one did. During this time last year, Vaeao was on the field showing his potential, while Shittu was back in Stanford. Vaeao made the team and was a contributor, while Shittu was stuck on the practice squad.