With T-Mac off this week, I figured I’d pinch-hit with the Twitter Mailbag. Thanks to all who submitted questions (which have been edited slightly for clarity purposes).
Ryan O’Donnell @Ryeboat: With training camp about three weeks away, what starting position battles should we watch for besides QB?
We can start with the offense, but other than quarterback, the pieces are pretty much in place.
LeSean McCoy is your starting running back. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are your starting wide receivers. And if the offensive line looks like anything other than Lane Johnson, Todd Herremans, Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis and Jason Peters, it’ll be an upset. That’s assuming, of course, that all those guys are healthy.
How Chip Kelly will use his tight ends is a bit of a mystery, especially since Zach Ertz missed most of the spring due to NCAA graduation rules. The starter(s) could very well depend on what package the Eagles are in on their first offensive play. Ertz, Brent Celek and James Casey should all see plenty of action though, and snap counts could depend on the week/game-plan.
There’s much more uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball. Cedric Thornton, Clifton Geathers, David King, Vinny Curry and possibly others will be competing for a starting job up front. Brandon Graham and Trent Cole might be competing for a starting OLB job, although Billy Davis could very well try to find a way to get both on the field at the same time (or rotate them).
And don’t forget about safety. That’s the most wide-open position on the team. Nate Allen, Patrick Chung, Kurt Coleman, Kenny Phillips and Earl Wolff will all get chances to earn starting jobs.
Chaddar @ChaddarXCheeze: Given the Patriots’ relationship with the Eagles, don’t you feel like a Brent Celek trade to NE is days away?
I received several versions of this question, and while I hear what you’re saying, Chaddar, I don’t really see it. Kelly has made it clear he wants to go heavy on tight ends because of the matchup problems they can create. Sure, the Eagles appear to have a bit of a surplus with Ertz, Casey and Celek. But Casey is a completely different player than the other two. He was basically a fullback last year and won’t stretch the field vertically. Clay Harbor, meanwhile, faces an uphill battle to make the team.
Having said all that, no one is untouchable, and I’ve been wrong before. If Bill Belichick calls with an especially attractive offer, I’m sure Kelly and Howie Roseman would listen. It’s not like Celek is untouchable. But for something like a mid-round pick? I don’t see that making sense.
GhostWriter Malik @EagleEyedPros: Who do you feel has the best chance to really contribute? Felix Jones, Chris Polk, Arrelious Benn, Ifeanyi Momah, Clifton Geathers, Bennie Logan, Curtis Marsh, Brandon Boykin, Jordan Poyer?
I am curious about how you came up with that specific group of players, Malik, but the Birds 24/7 Mailbag policy is to never answer a question with a question.
My pick is Boykin. I thought he really showed flashes of being a high-end slot corner as a rookie. Boykin is a terrific athlete and seems to have all the intangibles. The only question is his height, and playing on the inside, that’s not really an issue. As we mention all the time, teams are in their sub packages with a third corner about 50 percent of the time. That means Boykin will be counted on quite a bit.
As for some of the other names, I think Benn brings a diverse skill set to the table and will get a chance to contribute. I’m intrigued by Momah’s size, but he didn’t stand out in the spring. The coaching staff seemed to like Geathers during OTAs. Logan should be a rotational player as a rookie. And Marsh projects as the first backup corner.