Eagles Wake-Up Call: Benn Adjusts To New Surroundings

Chip Kelly has made it clear that the coaches can only go so far with their evaluations in the spring.

“We have an understanding of their athletic ability and how they run, change direction and things like that,” Kelly said. “But there are still a lot of things to be evaluated when you put the pads on. It’s still a physical game. A lot of guys look great in shorts and T‑shirts, then they disappear when you put the pads on. So we have an evaluation in terms of athletic ability, how fast some guys are, their ability to change direction and things like that. But until we get the pads on, we can’t tell.”

And that’s just fine with Arrelious Benn.

The Eagles acquired the 6-2, 220-pound wide receiver for his physicality and versatility. After three disappointing seasons in Tampa, the 24-year-old now has an opportunity to follow through on the potential he showed at the high school and college levels.

“[I'm] in a great place, as far as retaining the offense and getting down all the little things I need to do,” Benn said. “There’s still some things I need to clean up and get better with, dealing with a new system, but overall, I feel pretty good.”

Like the rest of the Eagles’ wide receivers, Benn lined up in a variety of spots this spring. Once training camp starts and the pads come on, chance are he’ll distinguish himself as the best blocking wide receiver on the roster (All-22 breakdown here).

“I know every position because you could be lined up anywhere,” Benn said. “It’s not just on the outside or the inside, you could be anywhere.”

Benn has several other factors going for him too. Kelly gave Howie Roseman specific traits he was looking for at each position. And the personnel staff obviously identified those traits in Benn. While he didn’t live up to expectations in Tampa, Benn still averaged 6.6 yards after the catch in 2011, which ranked 11th in the league according to Pro Football Focus.

After dealing with injuries during his first three seasons, he feels fortunate to have a fresh start with Kelly.

“He’s a guy that genuinely cares about players,” Benn said. “He cares about how we are, how we train, the type of food we put in our bodies and basically, just wants everybody to be great no matter who you are.

“I’m blessed to be playing here. I’m blessed to be playing for him and this organization.”

WHAT YOU MISSED

Matt Barkley signed his rookie deal Thursday.

T-Mac addresses the “team unity” question in his Twitter Mailbag.

The Eagles released some details for fans who want to attend training camp.

According to a report, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin was on the Eagles’ radar when they were looking for a new head coach.

McManus catches up with Evan Mathis.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com offers five Eagles observations:

The lack of pads makes it next to impossible to judge the development of the offensive line and running game, but noticeable was the number of quick screens and hitch passes that the offense worked on at practice. Perhaps this is Kelly’s remedy for the two-deep defenses the Eagles have seen ad nauseam since DeSean Jackson’s prolific 2009 season. Hit ’em with the short stuff, force ’em to bring the safeties in, then hit ’em deep. Should be a big season for Jackson and Jeremy Maclin if the offense functions the way Kelly envisions it. Oh, and by the way, the two-tight end formation talk wasn’t hyperbole. There were plenty of two-tight end formations at camp.

Tommy Lawlor takes a look at special teams in his column for PhiladelphiaEagles.com:

Too often, I would see Eagles blockers being shoved backward on returns when I would go back and study the tape. I would then watch a punt or kickoff and see players getting blocked. This is simply unacceptable. You can’t demand that your kickers be perfect or returners be fast, but you can sure as heck expect the blocking/coverage units to be tough and physical. That is the foundation of all special teams.

Fipp must find players who want to run downfield and kick some butt. What I saw last year simply can’t happen again. Players must understand that special teams are not optional. This is a critical part of the game. You play well or else we’ll find someone who will.

COMING UP

We’ll look at three things we’ve learned about the Eagles’ defense this spring.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
Become a fan of Birds 24/7 on Facebook.

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • Dutch

    There’s isn’t a defensive coordinator in the NFL who is not going to play DeSean Jackson 2 Deep, it’s a fantasy to believe any formation you may line your offense up is going to change those dynamics.

    After DeSean and Maclin were knocked unconscious in the meat of the defense neither is likely to do much hitching the rest of their careers. It’s probably best to assign those routes catching in front of Safeties and Linebackers to someone else in the receiving corps and the option should be other than Celek. .

    • MediaMike

      DeSean Jackson, being the best deep threat in football, will always be double covered over the top. Where they need to be able to expand his route tree is between 10 and 20 yards down the field on routes that he quickly cuts off and catches the ball there rather than continuing to be sent 30 and 40 yards down the field on each snap.
      Upgrading from Celek at TE is essential, so I was excited with the Ertz pick. I’m tired of seeing the dropped passes, ready made INTs on bump sets to defenders, and foolish celebrations on 7 yard gains.

      • MAC

        Sorry butDesean is not the best deep ball threat in football. His speed is deadly I get that. However I would rather have AJ Green, Mega Tron, Steve Smith, Larry Fizgerald, Mike Wallace,Vincent Jacson, or Torrey Smith for the deep ball. I know Jackson is a speedy deep threat, but I would prefer any of these other guys. Most of them can make the catch deep even if the defender is on them and it’s a jump ball or have to go up and get it. Desean has to have his man beat and the throw has to be pretty good. As a WR that doesn’t run over the middel of field much and is limited by that in what routes he is used in I just think Jackson gets over hyped. He is a playmaker and can make some spectacular plays, but in my opinion not the best deep threat in the league.

        • Max Lightfoot

          I agree. DJax, being so tiny, needs to be wide open so that the QB can actually see him. Hence Vick, being under six feet himself, has problems seeing receivers over his own linemen, which is part of the reason he leaves the pocket – he HAS to to be able to see his wideouts – but that’s another story entirely. And that’s probably why Kelly sees the need to drill Vick with those Samurai-flag baskets, IMO. DeSean’s whole game is breakaway speed, and bunching him up with DBs in the red zone is not his forté, hence his small numbers in that said red zone. We need some height and leaping ability at WR, and bigger people to beat up smaller players, as Chip says. Go Eags!

        • Dutch

          the difference is all the receivers you mentioned above are No.1 receivers and paid like No.1 receivers. DeSean doesn’t do what they do and that’s catch the ball all over the field, and through the middle. Mike Wallace is not prone or wasn’t in Pittsburgh to playing across the middle, Holmes was before getting hurt. That will have to change in Miami. Same with AJ Green.

          Maclin is more the Eagles No.1 he’s more prone to catch the ball anywhere on the field, although he’s not a threat over the middle consistently.

          Celek, Avant and Maclin have respectable reception numbers but they aren’t a threat to run through a defense after a reception and score. Teams are willing to contend and defend that than deal with DJax deep in single coverage.

    • cliff henny

      why is this a fantasy? think kelly is chuckling himself to sleep at night if you told him defense were going to play a majority of 2 deep vs eagles. he absolutely destroyed that defense in college. as Mike pointed out, kelly’s already setting his roster up for that defense, getting big physical o-line to pound 7 in box in 1st and TE that’ll stretch deep middle in 2nd. kelly will just body blow defenses till they get out of 2 deep, or stay in it, and he’s perfectly happy. he’s not reid, who no matter how well run game was working, you just knew he wasnt going to stick with it.

      • MediaMike

        Or just call a valid number of runs per game……………………………… that couldn’t hurt. I still insist that the 2006 Garcia playbook would have won the Eagles a lot more games in 2010-12 than the pass wacky crap we used.

        • cliff henny

          yup, nothing like seeing a play action on 2nd and short, but the d-ends didnt even break stride going after vick cause they knew odds were it was bs.

          • MediaMike

            Amazing more TVs weren’t broken in the Greater Philadelphia Area over that.

          • aub32

            Recession. TVs get costly after first 3 you break watching Demetress Bell alone.

          • Dutch

            That’s great because that means they weren’t respecting Shady. You can’t play the run if you are pinning your ears back chasing the QB. That was Babin’s down fall and continues to be a weakness in his game making him ineffective as a D-end. As Ends keep coming you keep running up inside of him, he doesn’t even require blocking.

            Instead of Andy running he kept his QB in the pocket waiting on routes to come open 30 yds down field

      • Dutch

        Any defense would rather defend Shady on the ground than DJax one on one deep. The rule for playing DJax is 2 deep making the other Eagles beat you. None of the other receivers were a threat to go to the house with the frequency that DJax can.

        Do you watch the Eagles games or don’t you know what you’re seeing? The safety on DJax side of the field is always playing back near the goal line, That defense is the reason Ertz has a chance to have a monster year in this offense with routes designed by Pat Shurmur.

  • MediaMike

    I’m looking forward to seeing what Benn can do because we are in major need of a #2 WR. Maclin, based on his numbers, is in line for a contract slightly larger than what the foolish Redskins gave Pierre Garcon. Garcon was signed for 5 years / $40 mil. In a salary capped league the Eagles cannot justify giving Maclin that type of money or beyond. They simply cannot devote that type of investment to a #2 receiver given the superstar nature of DeSean Jackson and the other needs this team will have. Shame they couldn’t turn Maclin into an additional 2nd rounder in the draft this year rather than the brutal compensatory pick they’ll get for him in the 2015 draft.

  • Andy124

    It’s hard to remember Benn treating the PSU secondary like so many rag dolls and not get excited for what he can do for us.

    He’s been in the NFL long enough that maybe he is what he is, but hopes of unearthing that hidden gem live on.

    • cliff henny

      besides knees, which was main issue, the guy did drop way too many passes. hoping he’s gem too, but even if he’s 100% healthy, he’s got to clean that up.

      • MediaMike

        Couldn’t be any worse that Mr. Hands Avant dropping TD passes vs. the Redskins at the end of a game and/or complaining about the fans.

        • cliff henny

          no, that sucked,but avant’s made alot more than he’s missed, that’s for sure. i’m guilty of it too, we see the guy physically and think it was only knees why tb gave him up for 6th. the guy doesnt have the greatest hands. if he get’s near avant level of hands, and knees hold up,we’ll have something there.

          • MediaMike

            I hear you, I just feel the need to point out that “hands” good or bad label is often more impression than production.

          • cliff henny

            you think avant has bad hands because of a bad play or two? avant is in nfl because he catches almost everything within reason. benn will drop balls that hit him in bread basket and no one around. but benn is great athlete that create seperation avant cant, so avant is always making traffic catches.

          • aub32

            True, but the problem is when Avant does drop one, it’s usually an easier grab at a crucial moment. Remeber Buffalo 2011? Ugh.

          • MediaMike

            AMEN aub!

          • cliff henny

            they all drop balls. most of avants passes were in critical times, he didnt see alot of 1st down balls. least of eagles problems over last 2-3 yrs were avant’s hands. now, him able to get seperation downfield, sure.

          • aub32

            Those critical plays are what fans remember. Let’s face it. He wasn’t exactly a go to option on 3rd down known for conversion after conversion. Add in the lack of big plays, and it just doesn’t look good for him going forward. Plus you have to factor in his inability to play outside. If we are going no huddle and keeping the same personnel on the field for a long stretch of plays, Avant’s presence on the field automatically limits you to the number of formations the team can line up in.

          • cliff henny

            well, i’ll disagree with your first point, avant was pretty good at 3rd down conversions for us. 2nd point, avant’s future with team is at best 1 more yr. between kelly liking quicker hybrid rb/slot guys like johnson or shephard and hopefully ertz’ ability to play between numbers, his days might be coming to end. i’d keep him before keep cooper though.

          • aub32

            By my 1st point I meant he wasn’t a staple in that regard. Did he have some conversions? Yes, but it wasn’t like fans saw 3rd &4 and sighed with relief because we all knew we had Jason Avant on the field. I would rather see the ball handed to Shady.
            Cooper is a toss up though. Sure he doesn’t have Avant’s hands, but he made some decent grabs in which he finally started using his size last year. He can also play the outside and I would wager he’s on par with Avant in regards to STs and blocking contribution.

          • cliff henny

            you like cooper more than me, that’s fine. he’s back end roster guy to me. if he makes team, i hope he sees no balls, every catch he makes should be going to someone else. ST and block for screnes, fine by me. i’d give it to avant over him because of locker room presence.
            that 3rd and 4 you discribe, was as much reid’s scheme and roster as anything. double outside, clog middle. just said avant was in nfl because of his hands and probably by default was our best over middle wr (since mac and jax had invisable wall at the numbers).

          • aub32

            If Cooper makes the team, he would be the last WR and most likely wouldn’t dress. That’s why I give him the nod over Avant because there’s no point in keeping Avant if he’s not going to play on Sunday.

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

            Whats all this talk about fans? Why does that even matter? Whether cans sighed in relief was irrelevant. I’m sure Vick and Foles loved having a Avant on the field on third down. He was essentially money.

            I’m honestly shocked how quick you guys are to dismiss him. He’s not flashy at all, but the fact is he’s a lot more proven than any of these guys you’re expecting to unseat him him.

            Avant grades out as one of the best run blocking receivers in the NFL. Do not for a minute think that escapes Chip Kelly. Having a slot receiver with the ability to seal the edge is ESSENTIAL in the effectiveness to run to the read option.

          • aub32

            The point is there are other guys who can do that now. Cooper and Benn can both block. Plus they have the ability to play outside. I want what’s best for the team no matter the player. I believe Avant will limit this offense. There are players: Benn, Cooper, Casey, Ertz, and potentially Momah & Sheppard that can give you the same things, if not better, when it comes to blocking. In a league where slot receivers are breaking games wide open Avant’s position on this team isn’t so secure. Having a player that can make something’s happen with the ball in their hand limits the amount of throws and potential mistakes our QBs have to make. Also, with Jackson keeping the safeties deep and McCoy occupying most of the attention from the linebackers, I want a playmaker getting the ball in the middle of the field where there should be plenty of room to work with.

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

            I’d love to see where Benn, Cooper, Momah and Sheppard have done anything better in the NFL than Avant. I know what he can do. These guys haven’t done anything. They need to prove that first.

          • aub32

            I say the same thing when comparing Vick to Foles, yet I am met with the unknown argument at every turn. I have stated before. Avant, Cooper, and Benn, are all equal when it comes to blocking and STs, give or take. Avant has better hands while the other two are more versatile and athletic. Were this Reid’s system, I’d give the nod to Avant. However, I think Kelly values versatility more than you think and unless Avant is Hands Jesus in camp, I think it’s a likely possiblity to see him on another roster come September.

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

            What are you basing that blocking off? From what you’ve seen? Avant is one the highest graded blocking receivers in he NFL. Versatility doesn’t squat when you can’t run and catch, and as I’ve said numerous times none of those guys have done nothing. This needs to be played out at camp.

          • Dutch

            I agree with you as I also think Cooper may be a better athlete than Avant. I also sense that Avant, since he joined the Eagles is considered by his peers and every QB that’s taken a snap beneath center ” Hands Jesus”

            I don’t see Cooper being in the same category or class as Avant when it comes to blocking and big catch capability. With Benn, we’ll have to rely on his reputation for blocking and I don’t believe many Eagles fans are looking for him to contribute much off the line of scrimmage as a receiver.

          • Dutch

            I agree 100%.

            The issue is Eagles Fans overlook and take for granted Avant’s steady contributions. The best thing happening is D Johnson watching and learning from Avant. Blending Johnson’s raw talents and quickness with Avant’s work ethics and mechanics could produce an extraordinary receiver.

          • theycallmerob

            I don’t understand what support you have for the idea that Cooper can block, especially at a productive level anywhere near Avant. IMO, Cooper has shown absolutely nothing at the pro level to warrant his roster spot. Avant is better than him in almost every aspect of the game, save for their typical position at the LOS (Avant plays inside, Cooper outside)

          • Dutch

            The Tight End who can split out is an asset that makes the slot receiver expendable. Avant as a receiver is a more productive asset than any of the current receivers and tight ends on this roster have proven themselves to be in this league. I do believe Ertz will have a big year catching the ball down the seams and exploiting the middle of the defense. If he has close to 60 catches he will have had a major impact and outstanding year.

            Avant has a history of big catches at big points in big games. Avant is a producer in the nfl when it comes to blocking and critical catches. Benn comes with a reputation as a capable blocker. Cooper has been barely hanging onto to a job, neither have the credibility and accomplishments of Jason Avant. Both will have to distinguish themselves in pads from Avant when neither have done so in the last 3 years.

          • Dutch

            The same way Eagles fans overlook Avant is exactly how Defensive Coordinators and their defenses overlook Jason Avant.

            Avant averages 3.1 catches a game. He is so inconspicuous that opposing defenses forget about Avant in pursuit of the other skill position players. On 3rd and 4, it’s likely Avant who runs into the defense and searches out a soft spot 5 yds or greater for a huge drive saving catch to make one of his three catches for that game.

            Avant doesn’t get recognition he’s often forgotten in post game interviews and obviously opponents game planning strategy sessions. This is good. Nobody seems to appreciate what Avant does until he is standing over another victim with the dagger in his hands.

          • MAC

            If most remember though when McNabb was here with Avant he used Avant as his 3rd down security blanket. Avant was reliable and was a nice 3rd WR with excellent hands. To me Avant is still a livable possession WR and really his production on 3rd down has gone down since we have had an inconsistent QB play.
            I do agree Avant may be cut though. I think for his leadership and his overall presence as a veteran savvy player he may be kept, but it’s up in the air.

          • aub32

            Sheesh Mac where have you been? Finally someone that brings something to the table worth actually noting. I have been stuck all morning dealing with the absurd notion of Avant actually being an asset playing outside.

          • Dutch

            That’s not true. Avant had his best years after 2009. In no year prior had he more than 32 receptions. 2011 was his best year statically with 2012 the next best in receiving yards and receptions.

            Avant is consistent to give you 50 catches a season and has never started more than 9 games a year since being drafted. He’s not flashy or going to beat anyone out of his break but he’s going to make himself a target if the play breaks down. He’s not an option on the hot route, but when the defenses go to sleep after 4 sec, that is when Avant is most dangerous.

            Avant is the only receiver who knows to drift into a defense 6 yards, when the Eagles need 4 for a first down. His greatest attribute is his blocking.

            The work Avant does that’s important to an offense isn’t on camera. He’s a grunt with soft hands. He’ll stick out when the hitting starts and his work in pads will make cutting him a difficult decision since Kelly likes to run the ball.

          • Dutch

            Avant is a “Lunch Pail Larry” receiver. You can overlook Avant and his consistency. Avant only may drop one catchable ball a year. He’s recognized as a steady hand physical blocking receiver. He is one of, if not the best blocking receiver in the NFL now that Hines Ward has retired.

            When the plays break down the defense have to locate Avant or, Avant will hurt you with a catch to keep a drive alive.

          • aub32

            Now that’s what I call a sales pitch. Don’t mention he only has 10 TDs for his career or is strictly a slot receiver who gives you almost no YAC.

          • Dutch

            He’s not going to give you those kind of stats. He does his job well. He’s never caught more than 3 touchdowns in a season. He’s going to make a critical catch and block down field.

            That’s all he ever does. He excels at finding a soft spot in zones and sits there as a relief if needed. 50 catches a season isn’t bad work. He has a reception average hovering above 13 ypc and 3.1 catches a game.

          • MediaMike

            That Redskins drop and Avant’s badmouthing of the fan base last year stick in my crawl mightily. Also the celebrating of 11 yard catches by waving his hands in the air is an annoyance because of the non-stop losing this team has gone through over the last two seasons. Avant makes a lot of great catches in traffic, but no more so than a lot of other guys in the league.

          • cliff henny

            guy makes 2 or 3 bad plays over past 6 years and celebrates too much when he makes a critical 3rd down catch, and he bothers you. last 2 yrs must have been a long falls in MM’s household

          • MAC

            You know why he is waving his hands in the air?

            It’s not a celebration. It’s an act of praise and thanking God each time. He is a Christian and after each catch does that as a gesture of thanks. So that is far from a celebration. Avant is not boisterous at all. He is great with young guys and overall team guy. Is he a great slot WR no. He was very reliable on 3rd down though when McNabb was here. I think the drop off in 3rd down production is due to erratic QB play more than him.

          • aub32

            I agree somewhat with your point about the QB, but would you rather have him or Ertz on the field on 3rd down. Personally, I think Ertz simply because now you’re as likely to run as pass.

        • Nick

          Mr MAN HANDS Avant was the only player in the NFL last year with a 100% catch rate. He has the 8th best career drop rate in the NFL. Combine that stat with this video and tell me his hands aren’t production.

    • MediaMike

      And I don’t think it’s too much to ask for Benn to grow into a 48 catch player this year. 3 a game isn’t being too greedy. A lot of slants and dirty work type catches.

      • Richard Colton

        if he does, great. if he doesn’t – what did he cost us? a 6th rounder?

        • PaoliBulldog

          Not even that. The Eagles swapped a sixth round pick (#196, acquired from Denver in 2011 for Brodrick Bunkley) and an undisclosed 2014 conditional pick for Tampa Bay’s seventh round pick (#218).

          The Eagles drafted Jordan Poyer with #218.

          So Benn was super cheap. I looked at the 2013 draft and didn’t see any names between #196 and #218 that stood out.

  • aub32

    With Jackson and Benn both preaching versatility is going to be required of WRs this season, I’m starting to think more than ever Avant will likely be out of here. We saw last year that even Damaris got the nod over him to play outisde.

    • MediaMike

      Avant has a contract that pays him above his role at this point. That $ would be better used for future upgrades on D. They’d get $1.3 million back after dead money by cutting Avant. They clear out an additional $4 million for 2014 by cutting Avant this year.

      • Nick

        You also have to remember that Avant is a very positive locker room influence. It will be hard for a new head coach to cut one of the team’s leaders when he’s currently trying to earn and maintain everyone’s respect.

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

      Talent will trump versatility. Shepphard, Salas, Momah, Benn, all these guys are unproven commodities. Avant has shown he can be an effective, reliable 3WR in the slot. He’s a locker room guy as well. These guys will have to unseat him.

      • aub32

        I’m just not sure it will be all that hard to do so. Cooper and Benn both give you what Avant can, if not more, in regard to blocking and STs. Momah is unproven, but at his size, I find it hard to believe he wouldn’t be an asset blocking and playing STs. All three of these guys can also play the outside. We know that wasn’t necessary in Reid’s offense, where each guy was only responsible for his position, but I think you’re undervaluing how important versatility will be in a no huddle offense that uses numerous formations to gain favorable matchups. Having Avant on the field would all but assure the offense being at a disadvantage if he has to line up out wide. Granted if none of these guys can catch thenthy won’t be put on the field, but I don’t think Avant’s hands are so great they make up for everything I mentioned previously. He did have some crucial drops the past two seasons, seldom as they may have been.

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

          You’re making way too many assumptions here. Avant is a better run blocker than both of them. Avant on the field absolutely does not put us at a disadvantage. He can run block better than anyone on the team and make tough catches over the middle. in 2011 Benn started 14 games and couldn’t crack 450 yards. Avant started 7 and had almost 700.

          Absolutely every single NFL receiver makes crucial drops, but Avant more than makes up for them with all his 3rd down conversions.

          I’m not saying he’s a lock to make this team in any way shape or form, but with Avant you know what you have. He’s a proven NFL commodity. These other guys are nobodies. Benn is a 2nd round bust, Momah has had essentially 1 good game his entire college career. He was passed over for 7 rounds in the draft. Same with Sheppard . Salas has been a practice squad guy and nothing else.

          • aub32

            I may have to see the numbers, but I don’t recall Avant making the majority of the 3rd down conversions. I fyou have those numbers, I would be ready to concede that point.
            Also, Comparing Benn and Avant’s production in 2011 isn’t really fair. Avant played alongside of Jackson, Maclin, McCoy and Celeck. If the ball had to be caught by someone, any DC would prefer it to be Avant. Also, I would take 2011 Vick over Freeman. That team lacked offensive weapons and basically quit halfway through the season.
            I don’t think Avant is all that far and above the Benn and Cooper when it comes to run blocking. The All 2 shows Benn can block and possibly better than Avant. Also, I saw Cooper blocking very well last season. Please don’t let the one block from the miracle delude you to thinking Avant is close to a TE when it comes to blocking. Which makes this a perfect time to mention that I would hope a good number of Avant’s snaps go to Ertz. Sure he’s a rookie, but we know he’s making the team, and are you going to tell me that Avant is going to block better than a TE?
            Again, if you read my earlier comments I mentioned guys like Salas and Sheppard competing with Cooper, not Avant. This team may only keep 5 WRs. If they do keep 6, I doubt they will all be active come game day. There’s no point in keeping Avant if he’s not active, and I don’t know if he cracks the top 4-5 that will dress.

        • Brian

          Why can’t Avant play on the outside?

          • aub32

            Did you watch last season? Whenever an outside receiver got hurt either Johnson or Cooper took over. This wasn’t just the case in 3 WRs sets to keep Avant doing what he does best. He never lined up outside to my knowledge, even in 2 WRs formations. He just lacks the abilities to play outside.

          • Brian

            When an outside receiver got hurt, their backup went into the game. That’s your evidence? Weak.

          • aub32

            My eveidence is not once did Reid, who knows a tons more about football than you or I, put Avant in the game as an outside receiver. Why would he do that if Avant had the ability to play the outside? Why have a rookie and a guy who I think most would catergorize as still unproven or not good to decent out there if Avant was so capable. He’s strictly a slot receiver. How is this even a debate. Please site me any “evidence” you have that makes you think he can play outside.

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

            With an offense built around DeSean Jackson, it would be silly not to put a guy like Damarius Johnson outside when he went down.

          • Brian

            No kidding, he’s the backup.

          • aub32

            Then explain Cooper on the other side. Better yet, just site the last time Avant was on the outside with any regularity or success. And in an offense where most likely the TE would see the outside before Avant. How is this even worth discussing?

          • Brian

            Avant was the slot receiver. DeSean Jackson just told us that the receivers didn’t need to know each other’s routes in Reid’s offense. Why would you move Avant to the outside, instead of using the backup outside receiver?

          • aub32

            Damaris and Cooper both saw time in the sot as well as the outside. Please give me another excuse for Avant. Face it. He isn’t an outside receiver. That’s ok. I’m not saying the guy eats babies.

          • Brian

            Your argument holds no water.

          • aub32

            And you made no argument at all. Your whole argument was asking me why he isn’t an outside WR. You still have yet to site why he can do it. I’m waiting.

          • Brian

            Because he is an NFL receiver who’s had 50+ receptions in each of the past three seasons, he ran a faster predraft 40 than Arrelious Benn, he’s only dropped a handful of passes over the past three seasons, and he doesn’t eat babies.

          • aub32

            50+ receptions in the slot. Did I say he couldn’t play the slot? What does that have to do with playing outside, and predraft, WOW, that’s really what we are going with. Vick was faster than RG3 predraft. Want to bet who would’ve won a foot race last season. I’m done with this debate. I can’t believe you had the audasity to knock my points and come back with predraft 40 times. Thanks for the laugh and furthering my point that you have no argument.

          • Brian

            What makes Arrelious Benn a better option?

          • aub32

            hahaha dude you are too much. You clearly had no Avant argument from the beginning and as soon as I pointed out how ridiculous that on the spot answer you came up with was you immediately abandoned your defense of Avant playing outside in favor of going after Benn. Why not just start with that instead of the silly notion you made me go through of making me think you actually believed Avant could play outside. Come back when you can debate a point instead of just questioning the reasoning of others and responding “nuh uh”

          • Brian

            Your original point was that Avant couldn’t play the wideout position. Your argument was, because he didn’t play wideout when DeSean was hurt. Worthless point.
            Why can’t Jason Avant play the wideout position?

          • aub32

            Guy let it go. I have stated my position and backed it up why he would be at a disadvantage outside (yes he could stand there and go through the motions if that makes you feel better) The point is you don’t want him outside. Please see my above point about Cruz if you need further clarification on my position. You however, have no basis nor are you providing anything that to debate on why you even believe he would be an asset lining up outside. That’s why I don’t see the point in continuing discussing this.

          • Brian

            You just keep modifying your responses without answering the basic question, “Guy”. Try this http://www.phillymag.com/eagles/2013/06/11/projected-depth-chart-eagles-offense/

          • aub32

            Are you serious??? Those projections are a cop out. He doesn’t even pick a starting QB. They’re just par for the course as to not make any waves this far out of the actual playing season.
            My point was Avant lacks the versatility to be an asset outside. I have isted several points but will do it once more and list them individually so you can keep up
            1) Avant lacks the speed to get open on deeper routes versus number 1 and 2 CBs
            2) In addition to lacking speed, he also lack ideal size or jumping ability to go up and contend for balls in tight coverage.
            3) His route running ability will be reduced as now he will have to deal with the sideline and won’t have the open space and ability to go either direction that the middle of the field provides.
            4) He has less experience outside than the receivers I listed should be given the nod over him
            5) He is least likely to create anything after the catch (this applies to the slot as well as the outside)
            Now you can either concede this ridiculous notion or come up with another way to dodge answering why you think he’s an asset on the outside in the first place. Since obviously you don’t have a legit argument to pose.

          • Brian

            1) Not every receiver is a deep threat. We’re talking about lining up wide a few times. Not every formation includes (2) tight ends.

            2a) How fast does he have to be to occasionally play the position? 2b) He’s 2″ taller than our Star wideout (bad argument). 2c) How high can he jump?

            3) Clarify how he’s more limited than any other receiver playing along the sideline. I get what you’re alluding to, but he’s no idiot, he can learn to work the sideline.

            4) He’s got much more NFL WR experience than the receivers you listed.

            5) I can’t defend his YAC except to say that he runs shorter routes where there is more traffic.

          • theycallmerob

            aub, I get the Avant and outside thing, but there is equally little to support your notion that Cooper is better. Sure, he lined up outside last year, but was he any good? nope. Avant is limited, but he is what he is. I don’t see what Cooper brings to the table that any UDFA can’t immediately replace. Unless you’re family with him, I can’t imagine you’re watching the same guy.

          • aub32

            This particular debate was just about Avant’s ability to play outside. Feelings on Coo[er are another topic in general, and I mentioned somewhere that he would be the last WR if we kept 6 and likely he or Momah wouldn’t dress. My hope of course being Momah shows at some point in the season being worthy of being dressed and I just don’t see why you would have Avant on a team if he’s inactive.

          • theycallmerob

            To be fair, I made that first post before scrolling down; good lord, you leave this site for just a few hours…..
            The way I see it, as of today Avant has shown an ability to be an effective possession receiver in the NFL. Johnson looks better in shorts than on the field, Cooper does not impress me at all, and Benn’s injury history paints an incomplete picture for me. Throw Momah in the mix, and yes- I would love for any or all of those guys to step up and “play to Kelly’s scheme” to the point that Avant loses his spot to the competition.
            In a dream world, my 5 WRs would probably be Jackson, Maclin, Benn, Momah, and Shepard (with DJ2 being the last man cut, and either Jackson or Maclin gone next year).
            But say Benn, Momah, or DJ2 look bad in pads, and Shepard can’t play at this level….again, at least there’s film of what Avant does: play inside, catch almost everything, block fantastically, play ST beautifully, and give it 100% on every play. Those are facts. Almost everything being said about the new guys is based on potential.

            I have always understood Avant’s limitations, but IMO he brings more to the table than he takes off of it, especially when you factor in the intangibles. And yes, he doesn’t seem to fit the uber-versatile part of Kelly’s vision, but there is nothing to say those young guys will either.

          • aub32

            I figured you missed some of the other posts which is why I filled you in a bit. I do get your point. Momah, more than anyone, is a dream that we have no idea what to make of now, which is why he’s my guy that doesn’t dress. I have seen DJ2 in pads. The little guy can scat, and even though he’s nowhere near the blocker Avant is, there’s no lack of effort. That may be all we need with this new system. That leaves Benn and Cooper. We could go on and on why Avant has a chance to beat them out and vice-versa. To me it comes down to versatility and big guys beat up little guys. That’s what Chip has given me to this point, and that’s what I’m basing my opinion off of. Avant is neither versatile nor is he big in comparison to the others.

          • theycallmerob

            I hear you. To be honest, it is the most exciting position battle I’ll be watching in camp. I really hope someone stands out in this scheme, be it Ertz/Momah/Benn/DJ2.

          • aub32

            I really want Ertz to pan out. I think DJ2 and Benn can be decent to good players, but I am hoping Ertz turns out to be something special.

          • theycallmerob

            I’d double up-vote that.

          • GEagle

            I’m calling it Right now, Eagles will have the TE duo of the future in 2014(this will be Celeks last year):
            Option A:
            Ertz and Jimmy Jam Graham(saints are poor)
            Option B:
            Ertz and Colt Lyeria. A future NFL Manbeast that chip knows very well from Oregon!

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

            Because he’s the starting slot receiver. A back up outside receiver replaces an outside receiver. Avants role wouldn’t change.

          • aub32

            Ok so tell me why you feel Avant wouldn’t be a liability if he lined up outside.

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

            What exactly do you expect to happen if Avant was to line up outside? Do you think he’s going to fall over and start convulsing? If you can play the slot you can effective play the outside for a few downs in the hurry up offense. It’s not optimal, but there’s no way it’s a liability. He’s not a starting out receiver by any means, but a liability is just plain ridiculous.There are plenty of plays you can devise to have your best blocking receiver on the outside.

          • aub32

            The explanation given to the advantage of running a no huddle offense is that it takes advantages of personnel matchups. That to me says that Avant’s role in the slot will be deminished in favor of getting a 2nd TE on the field. With a reduced role in the slot by the receivers as a whole, it would be great if two remaining WRs could line up both outside and inside without giving up too much from a matchup standpoint. Avant doesn’t do that on the outside. Will he sponataneously combust? Of course not. But he would be at a disadvantage when going up against most number 1 or 2 corners in the league. He doesn’t possess the deep or long speed to garnish any safety attenion. Also, his route running ability won’t be as effective as he will have to contend with the sideline.
            Also, what is your point with mentioning his blocking again? There’s no solid argument either way that his blocking is that much greater than Benn or Cooper. Also, if all he can do well is block from the outisde, doesn’t that tip your hand a bit as to what the offense is about to do.
            Now I will ask again for you to provide a pro argument for Avant playing the out WR position. Otherwise there’s no point in going any further with this “but I like Avant so he can do it” argument.

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

            I’ve told you already several times that Avant has graded out as one of the top blocking receivers in the league. PFF will back me up on that, I’m sorry if it doesn’t pass your eye test but facts are facts, and the stats don’t lie. Benn and Cooper did not even come close.

            You keep saying advantages and disadvantages but how do you have absolutely any clue any of these other guys will give any advantages whatsoever? What has ANY of those guys done in the NFL to think that they will be more successful than Avant? That’s been my point the entire time. These guys are NOBODIES. They may very well prove to more valuable than they have in the past, but they have to do that first.

            Momah’s a big target, awesome, that’s great. His career high receiving yards in a season in college was a whopping 296. Sorry if I’m not sold he’s going to be a superstar. Benn is a bust and has never had a season statistically close to Avant. What am I missing here? Why are you so sold on these guys being able to be effective on the field when they couldn’t do it before? Avant has shown that. These guys haven’t.

          • aub32

            First off I got your point about the blocking. However, blcoking is a hard thing to grade out as they don’t really show it on tv all the time. Once a guy gets a reputation as a good blocker, they are going to get more attention for it. We see this with offensive lineman and pro bowls all the time. My point is based on what I have seen, Cooper and Been are very capable blockers and I don’t think you will be losing much, if anything, by having them instead of Avant.

            In regard to Avant being proven, you will get no argument from me in regard to himplaying a slot receiver, However, he’s just as unproven, if not moreso, when it comes to playing outside. So I don’t see your argument for him playing outside.

            Furthermore, as I stated, a good number of the slot receiver snaps are going to go to the TE. This isn’t a guess. We know this is going to be true based on the personnel moves and what Kelly said he is going to do. Therefore, the slot receiver position will be devalued as a whole. That doesn’t bode well for someone who has been strictly a slot receiver the past few years. Therefore, versatility is going to play a much bigger factor, something Kelly has also mentioned repeatedly. Avant just isn’t that versatile. By comparison, Cruz was a slt receiver in 2011. However, if Manningham was out of the lineup, Cruz play outside. Hell, Cruz played outside even when both outside starters were healthy. That’s not the case with Avant. He remained strictly a slot guy.

            My 1st 4 WRs are DJ, Mac, DJ2, and Benn. They fit what Kelly likes to do. I would like to see Cooper take the next spot. He has played both inside and out, is a good STer, does a good job blocking, and showed up a time or two in the RZ last season.The last spot is a guy who likely won’t even dress. Why have Avant on the team if he isn’t active.

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

            Your first paragraph is absolutely ridiculous. Blocking isn’t a hard thing to grade out when you watch the film. They either make a block or they don’t. PFF watches every single snap. It’s not a matter of opinion or reputation. They are facts and actual stats. So no, it’s not like the Pro-Bowl whatsoever. It’s not a vote. Benn has been a capable blocker? Based on what? Have you watched all his film? He’s never graded out high according to PFF.

            Your point about slot receivers being devalued out is just flat out wrong. Please go back and watch a team called the New England Patriots, look at their use of multiple TE sets and tell me that their slot receiver was devalued. Yeah, no. And while you’re at it, please go and watch the tape of Cruz playing outside while Nicks was hurt. It was terrible, and he was not effective whatsoever. Cruz is purely a slot guy, plain and simple.

            Still waiting for you to tell me what Benn has done that makes you so sure Kelly will love him. I see a guy who underachieved and was let go by the Bucs for chump change. Why would a coach rather have a guy who can’t really do much of anything over a guy who may be limited in his role but is much more effective?

          • aub32

            Like I said we’ll just have to agree to disagree on the blocking. I said it was harder to grade because a lot of times if a receiver is blocking the backside or not on the screen, then you can’t gade their blocking on that particular play, and it’s more likely a slot receiver would be in the shot than an outside receiver. My point is the same I have seen both Cooper and Benn block and feel they are capable.
            That’s a good point about the Pats. I won’t argue that. The only thing I will say is avant isn’t Welker. There was a significant drop off in the slot production last year when the Pats tried to phase Welker out of the offense. Also, I made that statement in reference to us going 2 TEs, 2 WRs, 1 RB a lot. That’s an assumption on my part, but given this formation I would lean more toward DJ, Mac, DJ2, and Benn over Avant. Wes would get the nod because he’s one of their best weapons and great in the open field. Avant not so much.
            Lastly I am going on Benn’s ability over Avant’s production. Benn has not produced as much as Avamt, but he also had less talent around him and QB woes. As I stated before, out of all the skill players on the Eagles, Avant is the one you’re least afraid of with the ball in his hands, that includes the QB. Avant has benefitted the past few years from having the safeties parked deep and primarily going against number 3 CBs and LBs. I believe he would not fair so well if lined up outside, which I think I have made my case for.

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

            Sorry aub, the stats just don’t back up what you’re saying about Welker. He went from 1500 yards in 2011 to 1350 in 2012. and he played in 2 less games. Not exactly a significant drop off. Your argument was that we would phase out the slot position, it wasn’t that Avant wasn’t as talented. NE went out and signed Amendola as soon as they lost Welker, so it seems as though they stress the importance of a slot receiver.

            The stats don’t back up your Vick v. Freeman argument either. Freeman had better years statistically except for his QBR in 2010. He may not have had talent around him, but as soon as the team did get some talent he couldn’t get on the field anymore.

            I haven’t seen this ability you’re talking about with Benn. The Bucs let him go for a 6th round pick, so that must tell you something about what they saw in him as well.This guy might not even make it through August, lets be realistic here.

          • aub32

            You misunderstood what I said. I wasn’t referring to Welker’s production. I was referring to Edleman’s during that period Belichek tried to prove a point in spite of Welker. Julian wasn’t as effective, showing it had to do with the player not just the scheme. Meaning that just because Welker had outstanding production with the Pats doesn’t mean Avant would here, especially since he lacks the ability to do the things Welker does after the catch and I doubt he’s as good an option route runner for the fact no one does it as good as Welker in my opinion.
            Also, don’t forget Amendola can play outside, and we have yet to see if can can be as successful in the Welker role. Not to mention Brady doesn’t have the talent outside that we have. (less balls to go around) or the talent in the backfield. (McCoy >>> Ridley)
            And where you may be right about Benn not making it through August, the same could be said of Avant at this point. No?

          • nicksaenz1

            Gotta take into consideration that the Pats rarely had Gronk and Hernandez in the lineup at one time, therefore relying more heavily on the slot than I think we intend to in having Celek, Ertz, and Casey.

          • theycallmerob

            C’mon, that’s absurd…Victor Cruz is a liability outside. Andrew Hawkins is a liability outside. Heck, Welker isn’t as great outside.

          • aub32

            Though Cruz is undoubtedly better on the inside, He still had a 1000 yard season while spending significant time on the outside last year. There’s a difference to being not as effective and a liability. Cruz = not as effective. Avant = liability.

  • MediaMike

    If one takes special teams into account, is there a way of getting the following group as the opening day WR group?

    JACKSON, Maclin, Benn, Johnson, Momah, Cooper

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

      I think we need to see Benn and Momah in pads before we starting pencilling them in the 53. They’re extremely unproven and no way locks to make the team.

      • xlGmanlx

        Compared to what? Coop? Avant? Not exactly hard acts to beat at this point, for both.

    • aub32

      I’m for this group. Although Cooper would have to earn it by separating himself from Sheppard and Salas.

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

        Based on what? I haven’t heard anything saying those guys have looked better than Cooper.

        • aub32

          I am giving Cooper the nod, but he has come up smaller than expected in the past. He’s no lock to make the team. I liken it to Vick. Based on experience and skill Cooper should in my opinion be on this roster. However, he’s going to have to prove himself to the new coach and hopefully be better off for it.

      • xlGmanlx

        Coop isn’t exactly a world beater, had more than enough chances. I would take the unknown over the know mediocrity that is coop

        • illadelphia21

          100% agree. Coop is what he is. And if the team had a chance to keep 6 wrs then I would hope Avant would be the 6th. Johnson, Benn, Momah, and even Ertz could all be way better players if Avant is there to teach them a thing or two. And even if he’s not teaching then just by watching him and following his example.

    • Nick

      If one takes special teams into account, is one really going to leave out Avant? Miracle at New Meadowlands? Dude can block, I’d guess he’s second best after Benn (although Momah might be a beast at blocking, he is gigantic).

      • xlGmanlx

        More like dude got run over, he pretty much looked like he got a concussion on that play, not exactly from his blocking…

        • Gary

          He did get a concussion from that play. Had to sit out the next week I believe.

          • xlGmanlx

            I assumed, just by the way it was violent ( i noticed it live) and how he feel immediately afterwards. He more sacrificed himself without knowing then laid a dude out, which when done right, doesn’t hurt yourself a bit.

    • xlGmanlx

      Sheppard hopefully beats out coop, and they only go 5 for WR.

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

    Chip preaches versatility, but talent will trump that. If you have a proven reliable guy like Avant who can maybe only line up effectively in one spot, but does that job well and better than a rookie who you can move around but can’t catch the dang ball, you best believe Chip will go with Avant.

    • cliff henny

      think avant makes team, but will see his roll greatly changed. he seems to work very well with shephard at least. his catches probably will go down, but he is physical willing blocker, kelly likes that. between jax, mac, benn and johnson (or shephard), the 5th guy isnt going to see alot of balls. plus ertz i hope see a ton.

    • xlGmanlx

      I don’t think Avant has enough talent to simply override versatility. My opinion is he has reached his ceiling, I don’t think Kelly would keep some one around that was at their max when there is way more potential. Why keep Avant, but in a lesser role? He already provides little to the offense to begin with.

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

        My point is not to keep Avant at all costs, my point is that these other guys are not proven and by no means have shown that they will be more valuable than Avant. We know what we’ll get from him. If you look at the track records of Momah and Benn, them being an upgrade over Avant is not even close to a guarantee.

  • GEagle

    I think the world of Benn. If he stays healthy, he could really be something valuable for us…This kid has the potential to be an Evan Mathis type of addition. He won’t ever be ranked as the best at his position, but this kid has so much potential, it’s scary. Love his attitude to…I would not be surprised if Benn is our most productive RECIEVER this year. he has that kind of talent, assuming the knee injuries hasnt robbed him of it.

    As for Chip Kelly’s screen game, I need to see it before a proclaim it to be this dangerous weapon. To many people forget that what an Olinemen can do during a screen play in College, is very different from what a lineman is allowed to do in the NFL…anxious to see how Chip makes this adjustment and works around these new Oline rules that he isn’t used to…In Chip we trust.