Weekend Reading: Avant On D, More Love For Barkley

Some notes to pass along on this Sunday…

On Friday, we linked to a report that said tight end Clay Harbor was getting looks at outside linebacker.

But apparently, he’s not the only offensive player seeing reps on the other side of the ball. Wide receiver Jason Avant has practiced with the defensive backs, according to Zach Berman of the Inquirer.

“I don’t necessarily think it’ll cloud my future,” Avant said. “I really think it’s an honor anyway for a coach to think you can do other things.”

Avant is a veteran who has shown great hands and the ability to come down with the ball in traffic. But he’s no lock to make the roster. Apparently, Chip Kelly is looking to explore every possibility with his current personnel before making final decisions on the final 53 in September.

Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com talked to three scouts about the Eagles’ picks. One of them loved the Matt Barkley selection:

“They got a steal. To be honest, I thought he was the best pure quarterback [in the draft]. Everyone questioned his arm strength. I didn’t think he had bad arm strength. I thought he could put the ball in holes, he had good placement, good anticipation, good velocity. He might not have an arm that can throw 60, 70 yards downfield, but who does? And how many times are you throwing the ball 60 or 70 yards downfield? We had him as third-round, but I honestly believe if we had needed a quarterback, he would have been in our first round.”

Rob Rang of CBSSports.com thinks Barkley could see the field sooner rather than later:

In large part due to his ability to get the ball to his playmakers quickly, expect to see Barkley quickly pass Nick Foles on the Eagles’ depth chart.

And with Vick on a one-year deal and having played a full 16 regular season games only once in 10 NFL seasons, Barkley could prove a fit in Philly sooner rather than later.

We’ve written about how Eagles players are wearing heart monitors at practice. According to Dan Pompei of the National Football Post, other teams are doing the same thing:

The use of GPS systems and heart rate monitors during practice to monitor biomechanics and recovery continues to grow in the NFL. Among the latest teams to join the trend are the Eagles and Jaguars. New Eagles coach Chip Kelly is very much into using technology and thinking outside of the box. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley was familiar with GPS monitoring because the Seahawks did it when he was in Seattle. The system is particularly helpful in terms of monitoring recovery of athletes and helping to gauge players who are rehabbing.

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  • Mostel

    Great hands? How about the drop to end the game in the back of the endzone vs. Skins in 2010? That might have been the best pass Kolb ever threw.

    • Philly0312

      Dude…Even Chris Carter Has Drops, Whats Your Point? Avant Didnt Have a Drop Last season

      • Mostel

        My point is leave the term “great” and other superlatives for those that earn them through actual accomplishments.

        • bdawg

          He’s dropped four passes in the past three seasons combined. He’s got GREAT hands.

          • pjxii

            His drops all seem to come when he’s in the endzone (vs Bears on MNF)

          • ClydeSide

            He doesn’t get great separation, nor ddoes he get YAC–but you are correct, he has hreat hands. And he has made some catches when he gets hit that no one else on the team would have hung on to. Is he fast enough or open enough for Chip? Maybe not.

          • bdawg

            However, if there’s one receiver that knows how to read a defense and find open space, it’s Jason Avant. I really doubt that he’s being considered as a d-back. I think it’s more likely that he’s learning by seeing the play develop from the defender’s point of view.

          • Philly0312

            The point is, if you are going to attack someone’s hands – don’t bring up a drop from 3 seasons ago. That’s like Saying Tom Brady isn’t great at taking care of the ball because he had a 3INT game in 2010. It’s just dumb.

          • xlGmanlx

            That is more TD’s than he has in the past three years, by 1

      • xlGmanlx

        He also followed that up with a bagel in the TD column, what is your point?

    • Zachary Kahn

      He has the best hands on the team and it isn’t close.

    • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

      Avant is the only receiver on the Eagles who isn’t featured in a highlight where a ball is bouncing out of his hands with a defender in close proximity.

      Each, Celek, Maclin and Jackson have multiple occasions where each has made highlight reels bumbling critical catches similar to the Ravens Reed interception.

      • illadelphia21

        2011 eagles vs. the buffalo bills…just saying.

        • Mr. Wu

          that was bad..lol

        • http://twitter.com/Lez215 Dutch

          Was that a drop or a strip? The NFL score keeper charged that play an interception.

          For 2011 the NFL recorded only one drop out of 56 receptions in 81 targets for Avant.

          But, that strip in buffalo was a hell of a defensive play.

  • BrickSquadMonopoly

    Barkleys ability to get his playmakers involved will help him quickly jump Foles interesting perspective

  • Jerry Pomroy

    I think it’s a sign of respect that Chip is giving both Clay & Avant an opportunity to contribute knowing that their buried on the depth chart in their current positions.

    As for Barkley, I really like his mental makeup & would have to agree with the scout. Of all the QBs on the roster, he stands out as the one individual that’s capable of “commanding” a team & becoming it’s unprotested leader…much like a Drew Brees. Physically, I think his skills compare most to Eli Manning or a Matt Schaub. So I think his potential is a top 8-12 QB. That’s above average & certainly respectable.

    I think the admiration & respect you see for Vick from his teammates comes more out of his overcoming the adversity in his personal life than what he’s given on the field or in the locker room. He’s also a veteran in the league, one that was considered a star at one point in his career by many but that’ll only get you so far once the stardom fades, which it clearly has with Vick.

    Foles seems more the unsung hero type. The 4th outfielder that can come in & win you a few games, or get a clutch pinch hit here & there. Or if you prefer, the 6th man that can come in and give you some solid minutes & maybe drop a game clinching 3 here & there, more than the guy that’s going to take a team on his back day in, day out consistently. We’ve had a small sample of what he can do on the field, sure…but when you dig a little deeper I don’t quite get the impression of him being the consummate leader type & having that edge, that killer instinct. He could very well be a starter in this league, but in the right situation & not one that offers a particular skill or trait that’s gonna make him stand out in a crowd.

    • ClydeSide

      He’s got a much better arm than Joe Montana.

      • mr. magee

        Not sure if you’re referring to Barkley or Foles, but I wouldn’t compare either one with Joe Montana.

        I would, however, be willing to compare either of them to Payton Manning… his arm has lost some zip, in my opinion, and yet he accomplished a great deal last year with an arm that is probably average at best in the current NFL.

        • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

          I’m sorry, but neither of those guys could hold a candle to Peyton Manning. He has so many other intangibles that very few QB’s in the history of the league have had, let alone Foles and Barkey.

          • Scott Paxon

            just an ignorant statemant to say. How do you know about what Foles and Barkley could become? How can you place a limit on what they can become especially in terms of intangibles? I dont even try to pretend to know how much information a guy can process, and how quickly he cant react to it. the most talented guy is not always the best QB. Peyton was nothing special as a rookie. Actually, he was pretty bad. Take Peyton’s best 6 rookie games, and they probably arent better than Foles only 6 rookie games. Barkley hasnt even had a rookie year yet. No one with any sense is going to run around claiming that Foles and Barkley can ever be close to any Legendary QB, But its an impossible position to project because its the most mentally demanding position in sports. Mr. Magee was only comparing the style of QB they could become in a general form, and I think todays peyton in terms of style is a great comparison. What was the point of pointing out that Foles and Barkely cant hold a candle to a future 1st ballot, on his first try, hall of famer?

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            I think you’ve made my point for me already. Foles and Barkley have done nothing. Peyton is a 1st ballot HOFer. Heck, I could make the comparison that me and Peyton are similar in that last year my arm strength wasn’t as good as the year before. Does that mean I can count on having great success in the NFL because we share that similarity? Do we just forget about the part where his arm was never weak to begin with, so “losing some zip” does not equal lack of ideal arm strength? Or his ability to dissect a defense from the LOS? I could go on and on and on about what Manning can do that these guys can’t. I don’t base my arguments on what these guys might do. They haven’t dont squat yet and Manning’s resume speaks for itself.

          • GuyLeDouche

            You don’t have to compare Foles/Barkley to Montana/’13 Manning to make the point that less-than-elite arm strength does not preclude you from being a great QB.

            It does not mean that either will achieve greatness, but not having a cannon is not the end of the world

        • ClydeSide

          The point i was making was that arm strength isn’t the only thing that makes a QB. Montana had a very average arm (Barkley’s is better).

    • Justin

      I admit I don’t want college ball, so I can’t speak for Barkley based on anything I’ve seen. But from what I read about him (quick decisions, accurate) he seems like he could be an ideal QB for what Kelly wants. I’m hopeful he turns out to be like Eli Manning or Drew Brees, but I have nothing other than words I’ve read to give me that hope.

    • Token

      Sign of respect?? Its more of a slap in the face to a guy like Avant IMO. Harbor is prolly gone either way, but Avant isnt just some chump that can play at all. He can play slot in the NFL and hes proven that. Making a guy his age thats shown to be effective at his position learn defense is a bit ridiculous. Cant imagine that kind of thing plays well in the locker room, or with future FAs.

      • Scott Paxon

        with all due respect. I dont think they are abondoning their primary positions, just seeing what they could do in emeregency roles. It actually makes sense since you can only dress 45 players. What does Avant really have to learn? cover 1, 2, 3, some press man? They wont ever be dialing up exotic blitzes for him if he ever has to play an emergency role. A guy like Troy Brown did it for Bellicek as a old veteran player. I dont think its a guarentee to work, but I like that our coach leaves no stone unturned, thinking outside the box with a dilligent approach. I think all our fringe players should get a look on the other side of the ball before they get cut. Versatility is crucial. Avant and Harbor wont ever be our 2nd string defenders, but if they can start learning some defense this early in the process, it could pay dividends late in the season in case of an emergency. I wouldnt call it a slap in the face for our coach to try and know as much as possible about his new players before he cuts any of them. If two guys are close, only one will make the roster, versatility can be an equalizer for a veteran competing with a much younger player for a backup spot. If Im Avant, I appreciate the opportunity because I would want ever opportunity possible to continue my eagles career, which isnt certain at this point in time. Unless a decision hurts us, Im all for it. The more Chip knows about his players the better

  • Septhinox

    It is a sign of respect. He’s trying to give AVant every chance to make the team. Many of you refuse to believe Avant’s on the bubble, but he is. You don’t see him asking Desean or Maclin to play DB. Avant is good at one thing, making tough catches in traffic. He has no speed, no RAC ability, etc. Those are things that Chip wants.

    However, Chip wants to give him the benefit of the doubt. If you can be an emergency 5th safety and do 95% of the things a 5th safety would do, it would save a roster spot and Chip would keep him.

    The NFL is still a business. If Chip feels Avant can’t get it done, he will move him. He’s not tied to him like a fan would be.

  • Adrian

    If Avant tackles like he blocks on punt returns then we have found our starting safety

  • Adrian

    If he tackles like he blocks on punt returns then we have our new starting safety

    • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

      Big difference between throwing a blindside block on a punt return and trying to cover Jason Witten.

  • Jack Waggoner

    I remember that drop against Washington, but Avant doesn’t have many drops. He’s as sure-handed as they get.

  • Honest_T

    I love that CK is not just looking to identify the SAM, or starting safety, but is also trying to find out “who are my football players?!”

  • Richard Colton

    if Avant is going to make the switch, age is on his side. 30 isn’t too old to learn a new position – I heard Chip Kelly’s thinking of converting Vick into a QB at 32.

    • dumper

      Haha nice

    • grn_mtn_phan

      That was SERIOUSLY funny! Thanks for that! LMAO!!!!!

    • EaglefaninAZ

      Oh man…. you win the internets this week. Lmao…

  • Run Eagles Run

    saying barkley is better than foles isnt saying much, but either way can we wait till the kid at least throws one pass in the NFL before saying what he is or isnt? God damn, that “first!” mentality does more harm than good sometimes. lets remember where lofty expectations got us the last 2 seasons.

  • Zachary Kahn

  • pjcostello

    Here’s what I don’t get…
    Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com talked to THREE scouts about the Eagles’ picks. One of them loved the Matt Barkley selection. What did the OTHER TWO say???

  • morgan c

    Honestly, I love this idea. Who knows if it works out, but I think it’s great to see this type of out of the box thinking (that could ACTUALLY prove useful). BB has done this with bigger no-names in NE. Who says Avant couldn’t make the switch?

    2 things we know: 1) He has good hands and 2) he likes contact and is physical. I could honestly see him succeeding as a 3rd down DB extra in nickel or dime. Someone to play the middle and help the safeties. It’s not as crazy as it seems. To be honest, I see Harbor having more difficulty at OLB (maybe ILB would be better fit?).

  • Ron Swanson

    I mean, he can’t be as bad as Kurt Coleman.