With the Eagles set to start the first live portions of training camp Tuesday, CSNPhilly's Derrick Gunn takes stock of how the team has fared thus far.
WR Nelson Agholor
Say what you want about Agholor — and goodness knows we’ve all said a lot — but what he started back in OTAs and minicamp he's carried over during training camp. Agholor has been catching everything in sight and coaches have noticed his consistency. What’s been most impressive is how he’s catching the ball away from his body, and getting separation from DBs. His athletic ability and speed have never been a question but his focus on securing the ball has been. He spent 2016 putting too much pressure on himself, over-thinking situations and fighting inner demons of self-doubt. Now in his third training camp, Agholor knows this is the biggest camp of his career to prove his doubters wrong and to assure his quarterback Carson Wentz that he can be relied upon. Especially when you consider the talent and competition at WR have increased. For Agholor, so far so good.
LG Isaac Seumalo
One of the more interesting debates heading into training camp was about who will win the starting left guard job. Right now, second-year player Seumalo is in the driver's seat. Last Wednesday, offensive coordinator Frank Reich surprised us all when he said Seumalo had been penciled in as the starter.
"He’s very smart," Reich said, "understands what he’s being coached, understands fronts, understands defensive schemes, what to anticipate, very athletic, tough-minded player.”
The Eagles can use an infusion of youth on the offensive line because the other four starters are an average of 29.5 years old, making them one of the oldest starting O-lines in the league. The thought was Seumalo would be replacing Jason Kelce at center this year. But with Kelce still here, the Birds felt they needed to get Seumalo on the field. With a future Hall of Famer to his left in Jason Peters and Kelce’s veteran presence to his right, Seumalo has a good support group to lean on. But keep in mind he will have to continue to work hard because Chance Warmack, a former first-round pick who has started 48 games, is also getting reps with the first-team O-line.
CB Rasul Douglas
So far, what’s not to like about Douglas? He has the size teams are looking for in a corner at 6-2/210. With the Eagles' being thin at CB, Douglas may find himself playing a lot sooner rather than later. Watching him in practices, he’s very aggressive, especially when playing press coverage. At times, he's a little too grabby but good coaching will get that straightened out. He also goes out of his way to seek advice on how to get better in a hurry. Last Thursday, he was seen huddled up with former Eagles great Brian Dawkins. Douglas said he’s asked Dawkins to watch him a little in practices to tell him what he’s doing right and, more importantly, what he’s doing wrong. Who better to ask to critique you than one of the greatest Eagles of all-time? DB coach Cory Undlin told me he believes this third-round pick has the makeup to be a very good corner at this level if he applies himself.
WR Marcus Johnson
This is a young man who has an uphill battle to make this roster, but the Birds are high on him. Johnson joined the Eagles in 2016 as an undrafted free agent and he spent time on their practice squad. He’s not the biggest WR you’ll come across (6-1/205), but he has some ability. He's quick off the line of scrimmage, runs good routes, has good hands and makes tough catches. Unfortunately for him, he’s buried in the numbers game with names like Alshon Jeffrey, Torrey Smith, Jordan Matthews and Agholor ahead of him. Plus, 2017 draft picks Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson. Johnson can play at this level. It’s just difficult seeing him in an Eagles uniform for the long haul.
LB Mychal Kendricks
This will be an interesting storyline to keep an eye on. Kendricks admitted last week he asked the Eagles to release him back in January but the team did not comply with his wishes. It was a frustrating 2016 for him as he played only 27 percent of the snaps. By comparison, Nigel Bradham played 97 percent and Jordan Hicks played 95 percent. He couldn’t understand why he was always the odd man out in nickel situations. Now we wait to see what his role will be in 2017. If his playing time is limited again, how will it sit with Kendricks this time around? Could it get to a point where he becomes more vocal and possibly a distraction in the locker room? If that happens, are the Eagles willing to put up with it? My opinion is Kendricks is the best overall athlete on the Birds' defense, but his athleticism has not always been an asset. His speed at times has been a liability in over-pursuing plays. So far he has been the good soldier and not made any waves, but the key words here are … so far.