The Eagles are back in Lehigh at training camp trying to make up for all the lost time from missing the OTA’s and minicamps. With 90 players on the roster allowed in camp, the Eagles will have some evaluating to do, and here is the position-by-position preview on offense of what the projected depth chart may look like.
This is one of the most set positions on the roster, the Eagles have star quarterback, Michael Vick, and have recently brought in Vince Young to back him up. The third string will most likely be 2010 fourth round pick, Mike Kafka. Jerrod Johnson, an undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M is unlikely to make the team, but is 6’5 and 250 pounds, great NFL size. He was projected in 2010 to be a darkhorse for the Heisman Trophy, but had major arthroscopic shoulder surgery prior to his senior season and lost the startng job after playing just six games.
The starting running back position is clear cut as to who will get it. LeSean McCoy had a terrific sophomore season last year, and came into his own at the position. This year, he has added about 8 pounds of muscle, and continues to get better every year. He is also only 23 years old, so they’ll have him for while most likely.
The question at this position is who the backup(s) will be. Last year, Jerome Harrison did a terrific job coming in as the backup when needed. Then Eldra Buckley added a nice punch on special teams. While Buckley is still under contract, Harrison is not. He is an unrestricted free agent and will be looking for a new job where he can have more carries. The Eagles drafted Deon Lewis out of Pittsburgh, McCoy’s alma mater. Will he play a significant role this season?
Expect the Eagles to sign a veteran guy who fits in the system. A shifty guy who plays on the outside, and can catch out of the backfield.
The sleeper here is Graig Cooper, and undrafted free agent out of the University of Miami. He has very good size, and had a good career at the U, but missed a few games in his senior season after having surgery on his ACL in the spring. He played a limited role in the offense that year, but when healthy, Cooper can be a solid back.
This could be a very interesting competition between incumbent Owen Schmidt, who did a terrific job after Leonard Weaver went down for the whole season, and seventh round pick, Stanley Havili.
Schmidt did an excellent job last season, and he excels in blocking, but can also catch out of the backfield. Havili may be on the practice squad this year, but may give Schmidt a run for his money soon enough.
Wide receiver is one of the strongest positions on the team. You have a superstar in DeSean Jackson (who hasn’t shown up to camp yet), a player on the verge of becoming a star in Jeremy Maclin (who has been out with an illness), a solid pro with great hands in Jason Avant, and a player poised to be a breakout player in Riley Cooper, who have already solidified their positions. The biggest question is, the fifth string wideout.
The favorite for the job is recently signed Johnnie Lee Higgins. The speedster from Oakland would provide a kick returner, as well as a proven player at the position. Others who may challenge Higgins are DeAndre Brown, a 6’5 receiver who was signed after not being drafted out of Southern Miss, or the hard working Terrance Turner. Turner played at Indiana, and originally made the team as a walk on. Before long, he earned a scholarship to play, all through his work ethic.
Also returning to camp this year is Chad Hall, a 5’7 fast player who adds a lot to the team by being versatile. He is unlikely to make it, after spending most of last season on the practice squad and getting in a few games. He gave up football for two years to be in the air force.
Sinorice Moss, who has played four years for the giants is a small player. In fact, he is only 5’8 and 185 pounds. However, he has been the most impressive receiver in camp thus far, and will compete for that final spot. This fight is most likely between him and Johnnie Lee Higgins, but Higgins adds more through the return game.
The tight end position is a strength of the Eagles, having Brent Celek, a veteran of five years who has led the team at the position for three of them. He is a favorite target of Michael Vick, and should continue to be for some more years. Clay Harbor, a fourth round pick last year, is another player looking to have a breakout season. He backed up Celek last year, and did a decent job at best.
Newbie Donald Lee should add to the team. He is an athletic pass catching tight end that has gone under the radar, but has done a nice job in Green Bay.
Some may say that this was the Eagles worst weakness last year. The Eagles have done a little this offseason to help out the position, but was it enough?
At left tackle, Jason Peters will probably be the starter, and has done a good job for the past few seasons. He has a ton of skill when it comes to blocking, but some question his work ethic.
At Left Guard, you will see Todd Herremans, who has done a great job for the Eagles for years. Probably the most solid player on this offensive line, Herremans is a versatile lineman who should thrive under Howard Mudd’s new system.
At center, Jamaal Jackson should be penciled in as the starter week one assuming he is healthy. Mike McGlynn started last year because Jackson was out all season with a torn ACL. McGlynn will add great depth and challenge Jackson for that starting role.
The right guard position will most likely belong to Danny Watkins (when signed of course). Watkins was the Eagles first round pick out of Baylor. He is a 26 year old rookie that was a dominant force in college. He started playing football late, but was thought of as the most NFL-ready player available in the draft.
The right tackle spot will belong to Winston Justice if he is healthy. He went on the physically unable to perform list recently and may not be ready for the season. If he is not, it could be King Dunlap or Todd Herremans could slide down.
Depth on the offensive line is tremendously important and the competition will be fierce. The Eagles have recently brought in Evan Mathis who is a solid backup guard. Also at the guard spot will be Mike McGlynn (who can also play center), rookie Julian Vandervelde, and Dallas Reynolds. Also on the interior, but more of a developmental center is rookie Jason Kelce.
At the tackle positions, the backups will be Austin Howard, who was signed as an undrafted free agent last year, and stuck on as a project. King Dunlap, a 6’9 “king” of a man, will be the first off the bench at tackle. Also, Fenuki Tupou will fight for a spot, but is doubtful to make it.
Defense coming tomorrow…