Eagles Wake-Up Call: What We’re Watching At OTAs

We get another glimpse of Eagles practice today at the NovaCare Complex. Here are three things we’re watching:

1. Where’s Lane Johnson?

The Eagles’ first-round pick lined up at right tackle with the second team last week. Second-year player Dennis Kelly ran with the ones.

“He’s been here three days,” joked Chip Kelly. “So for three days, he’s been the best offensive tackle we’ve ever drafted.”

It would be a major upset if Johnson didn’t eventually win the starting job. But we’ll find out today just how much he’s been able to pick up in a short period of time, and we’ll see how slowly Kelly and the coaching staff plan to bring him along.

2. Taking stock of the secondary

Last week, 2010 third-round pick Curtis Marsh and free agent Bradley Fletcher were the starting cornerbacks. But that was because Cary Williams had recently gotten married and was on his honeymoon.

Meanwhile, Patrick Chung and Nate Allen were the first-team safeties.

The names are different from a year ago, but the Eagles’ secondary is still a giant question mark. I’d expect to see Williams and Fletcher line up as the starting corners today, but we could see Kelly and defensive coordinator Bill Davis mix and match more safety combinations this week. Playing time is up for grabs in the secondary, and jobs will be won or lost in the coming months.

3. Outside linebacker competition

Trent Cole and Connor Barwin got the nod with the first team last week, while Brandon Graham ran with the twos. My head was spinning a bit, trying to wrap my head around Kelly’s practice methods. As a result, I didn’t spend much time focusing on how Cole and Barwin were being used.

Today, we’ll try to get a closer look at the scheme and see how the outside linebackers look performing the various tasks being asked of them.


The weekend roundup: Jason Avant gets a look on defense, and more love for Matt Barkley.

Michael Vick says his critics are ignorant and don’t know football. The QB also says Kelly taught him how to hold the ball properly to cut down on fumbles.

Tight end Clay Harbor is getting looks at outside linebacker.


The Eagles will waive running back Miguel Maysonet, according to Adam Caplan. The Stony Brook product signed with the Birds as an undrafted free agent. He did not participate in last week’s OTA session because of the NCAA late graduation rule.

Ray Didinger of CSNPhilly.com does not think Donovan McNabb is a Hall of Famer, and he doesn’t think the Eagles should retire the No. 5:

I’m fine with the Eagles honoring McNabb and putting him in their Hall of Fame. He deserves that. But I heard some fans say McNabb is the greatest quarterback in franchise history and I’ve never agreed with that. He may hold all the records, but to me it’s not about numbers. The real question is, “Who played the position the best?” Anyone who was here to see the last championship season in 1960 would agree that Norm Van Brocklin played at a level that far surpasses any other Eagles quarterback.


Practice at 10:40. We’ll be at NovaCare. Can’t wait to see what dance moves T-Mac breaks out this week.

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  • Philly0312

    Well – I won’t weigh in on McNabb having his number retired or not. The team will do what it thinks is right, but my goodness – Ray Didinger is an IDIOT. Norm Van Brocklin? Are you insane??? I don’t care about the passing numbers, obviously it’s a different game today, but how dare you even bring up a guy who only played 3 seasons for the Eagles, and had a 19-16-1 record! Because of a championship? There were a whopping 13 teams in the NFL at the time. What a clown.

    • Warhound

      Fewer teams means less watered down competition.

      • Philly0312

        Right….I bet you make the same argument for baseball in the 1950s and 1960s too. Brilliant argument. That’s sarcasm.

        • Johnny Domino

          If you have to label it, you’re not doing it right.

          • Philly0312

            Haha, true enough.

      • Bdawk20

        It also meant the league had a lack of diversity. It was like the NHL back then.

    • Richard Colton

      Of course you’re entitled to that opinion Shawn, but at this point I’d retire Jeff Kemp’s number if it meant a championship – hell, I’d retire Shawn Kemp’s number and pay his child support for a week if it meant a Super Bowl.

      That wasn’t Didinger’s point though. He didn’t say – “you can’t retire McNabb’s number unless NVB’s number goes first.” He’s saying that it’s difficult to make the case for number retirement because McNabb’s best never matched NVB’s best.

      • Philly0312

        Actually, the point is that NVB only played three years with the Eagles, most of which are subpar – only one good season, where he went 10-2, the other years he was a combined 9-14-1. In addition, he retired as a Ram. So bringing him into the argument is just irrational. I could care less about McNabb getting a retired number, but compare it to a player who actually played the position at a high level for many years. Not a guy who was with Philly for 36 games. Why not use Tommy Thompson? More years, more championships, even though he only started half his games, he still played 60 more than NVB. Even that isn’t a great argument – but at least he was a career Eagle.

        • Richard Colton

          that’s a good point you’re making, but you’re arguing against a position Didinger hasn’t taken. No Eagles QB has a retired number, so if we’re talking about making McNabb the first, shouldn’t he be unarguably the greatest? And are numbers the only thing that matter?

          Personally, I’d wait on McNabb.

          • Philly0312

            No I agree with you there – I don’t think numbers are the only thing that matter either – and I am not taking a position either. I just think if you are going to debate the idea, there are better people to compare McNabb too than NVB. While he was good for his time, he wasn’t an Eagle very long, and I’d rather even contemporary names like Randall or Jaws being brought up before NVB, even though they never won a championship either. I wouldn’t even say that NVBs championship season was better than McNabbs 2004-2005 performance. Yeah he came up short, but he was 13-1 in the regular season, and extremely dominant all season. The only issue with his performance that year was the last drive in the Superbowl (Yes, I am aware that same qualifier is not needed for NVB – but I’ll be honest – it is harder to win an NFC Championship today than it was to win an NFL championship in the 40s, 50s, and 60s).

          • UKEagle99

            I think the best comparison for McNabb is Ron Jaworski, both had decently long tenures, both got to Superbowls both came up short.

            Unless I am mistaken Jaws is in the Eagles Honour Roll and was nominated to the HoF but not inducted. I think that’s about right for #5 too, personally I appreciated most of his time here but I wouldn’t retire the number.

          • jabostick

            I think you nailed it. I’m a Mcnabb apologist but ring of honor, no HOF and no retired jersey sounds about right.

            (By the way, according to wiki, it’s now called the Eagles Hall of Fame?? Didnt realize that…)

          • Philly0312

            Concur – best comparison is Jaws. I think unless and Eagles QB is capable of making the Hall of Fame, it makes it difficult to say he should get his number retired. In my mind McNabb is our all-time best QB. Not really sure on the retiring the number issue.

      • Niels Rosenquist

        I think there are three key factors: stats, rings, and longevity with a franchise (the first two more important than the third). Sometimes stats alone can do it (think Dan Marino) or championship rings (if Roethlisberger were to retire tomorrow he would carry a strong case as well, off-field stuff non-withstanding), but usually you would need at least one ring and some serious stats. As much as it pains this McNabb fan (apologist?) to write this, he does not deserve the HOF and is a borderline case for having the number retired at best. The only person from the Reid era that imo deserves Canton and a retired number is Dawkins.

        • Philly0312

          Can’t disagree with that logic at all. Personally I hope they retire Dawkins number ASAP.

          • Tim_A_H

            They did. I was there. I wept.

          • Philly0312

            They did? I remember his ceremony – didn’t realize they retired the number too. Memory is failing me in my old age.

    • ClydeSide

      Norm Snead = McNabb

    • Bob A

      It’s hard to compare stats from 1960 to today. Someone below rightly noted that NVB was 9-14-1 in 1958 and 59; with a 53% comp in ’58 and 56% in ’59. He passed for 15 TD and 20 picks in ’58 and improved to 16 TD and 14 INT in ’59. In those 2 seasons the Eagles were 2-9-1 and 7-5. In 1960, he completed 54% of his passes for 2471 yards and had 24 TD and 17 INT, which are very average stats today, but he went 10-2, then went 9-20 for 204 yards with a TD and a pick in the title game. By comparison, his opponent in that game, Bart Starr, was 21-34 for 178 yards and a TD. But Billy Ray Barnes and Ted Dean combined for 96 yards on 26 carries, Dean also had a 58 yard kick return, NVB had 2 carries for 3 yards and Tommy McDonald had 3 catches for 90 yards and a TD. However, I think that his passing numbers were considered OK in that era because of the way teams ran their offense,( 28 rushes, 20 passes in title game for example). I don’t believe there were any Payton Mannings back then with completion rates over 65 % or guys that passed for 300 yards. Let’s face it, the Eagles haven’t won a title in 53 years so old timers like Ray will remember what they want to remember, but he was nowhere near McNabb in terms of stats or longevity with the Eagles.Overall( playing most of his career for the Rams),he was 61-36-4 with 23,611 yards. with 173 TD and 178 INT. They say his leadership was off the charts , so there may have been some intangibles that McNabb didn’t have, but other than that, McNabb was a far better QB.

  • Grant Redfield

    I wouldn’t argue if they decided to retire the number or I they didn’t a case can be made either way but the lack of respect for his career and body of work is ridiculous especially when you take into account who he was throwing the ball to

    • xlGmanlx

      quick, name the starting WR’s for Brady against the Rams and Panthers…..oh, nobodies too?

  • joethomas215

    I don’t care what NVB did. McNabb changed the whole culture of Eagles football. He turned the Eagles into a serious superbowl contender. When McNabb was QB he provided us with hope. Gone were the days of knowing that if we made the playoffs it’s be just for one game. If anyone actually remembers the 90’s they should really respect what McNabb did for all those years. With his numbers and wins, he deserve to have his number retired

    • Eagles4Life

      Looks like we have someone sensible in here…

    • Richard Colton

      Yeah. I agree, but McNabb only retired…what…like 15 minutes ago? Retiring his number this year smacks of “first ballot hall-of-fame” status. Was he the best QB in Eagles history? Yes.

      What’s wrong with waiting a few years and giving the worms at Lincoln Financial Field time to heal?

      • joethomas215

        I don’t mind if they wait. It may be better to have an established QB in place first, kinda have a passing of the torch thing

  • EaglefaninAZ

    “He’s been here three days,” joked Chip Kelly. “So for three days, he’s been the best offensive tackle we’ve ever drafted.”

    Ahhh… the Anti-Andy strikes again. A thousand thank you’s coach. :)

  • cliff henny

    Mcnabb and Dawkins are easily my 2/3(reggie is the baddest man ever to step foot on footbal field in philly) fav players of all-time, and been fan since age 9-1980(raised in Lanc, so was a choice back in those days w/ regional TV), so some seriously lean years. 5 had flaws-so i can see detractors side, but he made Eagles relavant for 10 years and trust me, that’s no small feat. he should have his number retired out of respect for that decade, since he and dawkins (HOF in my mind) were the symbols. HOF generally bothers me, i would place Mcnabb in the Hall of Very Good. great list of names, but he’s just short. think eventually he gets in but i’m not a good judge of that, think alot of players get in that shouldnt.

  • cliff henny

    there’s no way to list the names/depth chart for that secondary where it doesn’t scare the crap out of me. cox, cole, graham and barwin better be in the back-field creating havoc early and often.

  • Eagles4Life

    Todd Pinkston
    James Thrash
    Dameane Douglas
    Na Brown
    Freddie Mitchell
    Antonio Freeman
    Greg Lewis
    Billy McMullen
    Reggie Brown
    Darnerian McCants

    Terrell Owens
    Brian Westbrook

    If someone can add to that latter list, I’d be much obliged.

    • Richard Colton

      You’re forgetting “Touchdown” Jeff Thomason, which I will assume is just an oversight on your part and not an intentional slight against hall-of-fame caliber Tight Ends or construction workers.

      • Eagles4Life

        How idiotic of me. I completely forgot lol. Look at all those McNabb weapons…

    • bentheimmigrant

      Chad Lewis, maybe? And of course he didn’t have him for the SB.

      • Bdawkbdawk

        I was thinking Chad Lewis too. Then I took a look at his stats. Best two seasons 735 yds, 6 tds and 422yds 6 tds. Never again exceeded 400 yards or 3 tds. Wat? Something must be wrong. He wasn’t that bad….. right? I didn’t make up his production, right??

        • bentheimmigrant

          Dunno… I don’t think Reid really leaned on his TEs back then. But it’s been so long since that I can barely remember. It’s always hard with Reid to tell if it’s the players or the playcalling. How many red-zone passes did the TEs “miss out” on because the shovel pass was so effective? Anyway. My memory tells me Lewis passed the eye test.

    • cliff henny

      torrence johnson and charles smalls

      • bentheimmigrant

        … I can’t tell if you meant to get the names backwards, but either way, he said “latter list”.

        • cliff henny

          yeah, they were that bad. ok, hank basket and donte stallworth. does timeline matter…he never had crap from day 1, outside TO

    • Joethomas215

      Chris T Jones

      • joethomas215

        Actually I think Chris played with Rodney. Shawn Morey played with McNabb and good old Hank Baskett

    • Andy124

      DeSean Jackson (2 very good seasons)
      Brent Celek (1 very good season)
      Jeremy Maclin (1 good season)

    • 3rd & 1

      And where was Pinkston in the 2004 Super Bowl. He was in the locker room with leg cramps.

      • FMWarner

        To be fair, Pinkston made a SPECTACULAR catch in the Super Bowl. Not that it should put him in a list of great McNabb weapons, but he did show up.

  • Disappointing to read Ray Didinger’s comments about McNabb. “Norm Van Brocklin played at a level that far surpasses any other Eagles quarterback.” Which may have been true when Brockin played for the Rams

    I’m not sure that’s a true statement and would like to see Didinger represent that position on a nationally televised show. There is a credible case to be stated that Sonny Jergersen should have been the Eagles Quarterback in 1960 over Norm Van Brockin.

    • Philly0312

      NVB had decent passing numbers in 1960 – but not all world. Johnny U had already put up quite a few seasons better than NVB’s 1960 effort. He had a lot of comeback wins that season, but had zero comeback wins the REST OF HIS CAREER. As a measuring stick, Andrew Luck already has more comeback victorys than Norm had in his career. He threw more INTs than TDs most of his career, and outside of 1960 had a losing record with the Eagles.

  • Furious E

    Remember the game against Arizona (in ’06 I believe) where McNabb broke his ankle and played like 3.5 quarters on it? I think he might have put up the highest passer rating of his career in that game. That’s toughness!

    That being said, as much respect as I have for McNabb, I’m on the same page as most of the rest of you: Honor Roll, no HOF, no retired number. It’s unfortunate that one drive could have drastically changed that opinion…..

    • Furious E

      Excuse me it was ’02. Holy crap that’s starting to sound like a long time ago.

    • FMWarner

      The drive I think about more often is the drive Arizona mounted to win the NFC Championship in 2009 after the Eagles had climbed back from 24-6 to take the lead with only a few minutes left. The Pittsburgh team that would have been the Super Bowl opponent was a lot more beatable than the Patriots squad in its prime from 2004. I think that was really the lost ring.

  • 3rd & 1

    I’m surprised about Didinger’s remarks about the greatest Eagles quarterback. For his career, Van Brocklin had more interceptions than TDs (178-173). He was a 9-time pro bowler with only a 53.6 lifetime %. Van Brocklin’s feud with the Eagles and Fran Tarkenton of the Vikings shows that he was not a team player. The Dutchman was a great player and hall-of-famer, but he would not have lasted three seasons under Andy Reid. Why don’t we say that Terrell Owens was the greatest Eagles wide receiver? It’s because He was not a team player. Let’s hope that we don’t retire TO’s number. Also, Norm’s greatest QB rating was 86.5 while Donovan’s was 104.7 (2004).

    • eaglepete

      to even know about him you would have had to have been born in 1940s, cmon already. Gotta love the disclaimer “He may hold all the records, but…