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

The Eagles take the field today for the start of a three-day mandatory mini-camp at the NovaCare Complex. We’ll have it all covered with practice observations, interviews with players and more.

The session begins today at 12:40, but in the meantime, here are three things we’ll be watching.

1. What does the O-Line look like?

It’s been a rotating cast of characters during the last two months. Most notably, Jason Peters is expected back after missing time with a personal issue. We may hear more details from Peters, and we’ll also see where his return leaves Lane Johnson. The rookie stepped in at right tackle last week, and Dennis Kelly replaced Peters at left tackle.

But will Johnson stick with the first team now that Peters is back? And how is he picking up the offense overall?

At guard, Evan Mathis is out until training camp as he recovers from an ankle injury. The coaching staff has had positive things to say about Danny Watkins, but last week, Allen Barbre saw some time with the ones ahead of Watkins.

As we mentioned yesterday, there are depth spots up for grabs on the Eagles’ offensive line. Jobs will be won or lost in the summer when the pads come on, but we’ll continue to monitor where guys line up over the next three days.

2. Where’s Cary Williams?

The free agent cornerback has missed several sessions this spring for a variety of reasons. Last Friday, he was attending a recital for his daughter.

When Williams was on the field, he was relegated to the second team, despite having signed a three-year, $17 million deal this offseason. Curtis Marsh and Bradley Fletcher have been the first-team cornerbacks all spring.

Chances are, Williams will continue to run with the second team this week, but will eventually land in the starting lineup in the summer. But he’ll likely get questions today about his absences this offseason.

3. What adjustments has Kelly made?

Michael Vick said recently that Chip Kelly had to slow things down a little bit with the players. The head coach came into the league with plenty of ideas – from smoothies to sleep monitors to the up-tempo practices. But this is his first time coaching NFL players in a professional environment.

What’s working? And what’s not? Are players buying in? These are the last practices until training camp. When players return to the facility, they’ll be about six weeks away from the opener. We’ll try to gauge what the feeling is right now around the building.

Note: The team announced that all players are present for mini-camp except for Isaac Sopoaga (death in the family) and Zach Ertz and Jordan Poyer (graduation rules).

WHAT YOU MISSED

The latest depth chart outlook post looks at the Eagles’ offensive line.

Running back Chris Polk has lost 15 pounds and has one goal for 2013: to play.

“I never carried the football correctly,” says Vick.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com takes a look at the Eagles’ safety situation:

The expectations are more realistic for the DBs in the new system. That should help in a big way. Confidence plays a huge part in whether a DB is a good player. Nate Allen has NFL talent, but his confidence has eroded in a major way since his rookie year of 2010. Kurt Coleman doesn’t have the same confidence issues. He’s simply got physical limitations. The new system should allow both players to function better.

Defensive backs coach John Lovett says it will benefit the defense to go up against the Eagles’ offense in practice. From Chris McPherson of PhiladelphiaEagles.com:

“It’s the best because if they can sort it all out and get started and finish the play like they’re supposed to, when somebody starts huddling up it’s going to be easier,” Lovett said. “I think the stress that is put on them by this system is really good.”

COMING UP

We’ll have practice covered, along with some other goodies.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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