We recently took the pulse of the Eagles’ locker room, asking a simple question: Which of your teammates has impressed you this summer and is primed for a big/breakout season?
Some players couldn’t name just one or two. Others identified half the roster. We removed those responses and were left with 19 answers. They are listed below.
Todd Herremans: “I would pick either [Jason] Kelce or [Zach] Ertz. I think Kelce’s really got a great grasp of the offense and knowing what the defense is showing and what they’re gonna be doing and stuff. He had a great year last year and flew under the radar with it. This year more people are gonna notice and he’s only gonna get better being in the system another year.
“Ertz, I think he’s just gonna make that jump from Year 1 to Year 2. He’s a little more confident in what he’s doing. Also, I think last year he missed all of the summer and stuff because he was graduating. He’s got a good handle on what he needs to do and he’s gonna have a really big year.”
Cary Williams: “Mychal Kendricks might be one… his work ethic, and he just flies around the ball. Always plays with a high level of energy and always plays at a high level, period – whether it’s practice or a game-time scenario. …And Zach Ertz. Works hard, competes at the ball every time when he gets the opportunity. Catches the ball at its highest point.”
Zach Ertz: “I think Darren [Sproles]. He’s the consummate professional. Everything he does, he goes full speed. Even during walk-through, he’s out there running. He’s had a heck of a summer. Just his work ethic I think has rubbed off on a lot of people, and I think he’s gonna have a great year.”
What have you learned about him that you didn’t know before?
“He’s just such a good teammate. Looking from the outside in, you don’t know how somebody carries himself each and every day. He comes to work every day with the ‘get better’ attitude that we all love to have around here. And I think that’s rubbed off on a lot of people.”
Cedric Thornton: “I would say Vinny Curry. Everybody’s trying to label him as a pass-rusher. But he’s definitely attacked the running game as hard as he’s attacked the passing game. I feel like he’s gonna be a guy that’s gonna have a lot of sacks and a lot of tackles. …I’ve seen a mentality that he knows what people are saying are his negatives and he’s attacked it to make it one of his positives.”
Jeremy Maclin: “I’m gonna go with Brent Celek. He’s never really had a bad year or anything like that, but I think he does everything that we ask him to do. I think he’s probably the best blocking tight end we have in this league. And he’s a guy that gets his job done. He’s accepted the kind of new role he has, and I think by him doing that, he’s gonna get his fair share of opportunities to make plays for us, but at the same time help us up front too.”
Jason Kelce: “I think he had a breakout year last year, but he’s been working hard this whole offseason… Cedric Thornton. Day in, day out you can rely on him, count on him to be one of the hardest-working people on the field. Just one of the most accountable guys we have and hardest-working guys we have.”
Lane Johnson: “I think [Matt] Tobin. He’s a guy that’s really developed well. I don’t know how much he’ll be playing, but just a guy that’s really come along.”
Does he look like a potential starter at some point?
“Yeah. He’s just gonna continue to get stronger as far as knowing the offense. He knows it like the back of his hand. He’s very good technically, so he’s always in the right place at the right time.”
Najee Goode: “A guy that’s really impressed me this year, between the two [rookie] receivers, Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff. Those guys… Josh’s first game of the preseason had that explosive kickoff return. And every time Jordan Matthews catches the ball, he runs hard. He’s a very forceful runner and receiver. So I look for those two to do good things, especially when we’ve got [No.] 9 at quarterback.”
Vinny Curry: “I would have to go with Earl Wolff. When he’s on, he’s on. He’s really active.”
Evan Mathis: “Matt Tobin. He’s had a great offseason. He’s probably had the best camp of any O-Lineman. He’s been very consistent, especially for someone who’s moving to a position… he was a tackle last year. He comes in there at guard this year, and he’s doing really well. So I have confidence that if his name’s called, coming off the bench as a sixth man, we can trust him.”
Beau Allen: “The first person that came to mind was [Jason] Kelce, just because I go against him so much. I honestly don’t think he gets the credit that he deserves. …He’s a really smart football player. He’s really quick. He’s got great feet. And I think he has a really good understanding of what he’s trying to do to nose guards especially, and to all of our defensive tackles. He’s also really, really strong in the weight room. So I think he’s gonna have a good year.”
Brandon Bair: “Travis Long. He’s just always showing up on tape. You watch the games, and I know he’s a guy that was on the practice squad last year, but every time we watch, you’re just seeing… he always sticks out to you. And I know that was mainly at outside linebacker. Now he’s trying to learn inside linebacker. But special teams, all the way around, the guy is just really showing up.”
Note: This question was posed before the final preseason game when Long tore his ACL.
Allen Barbre: “Amongst the rookies, I think Jordan Matthews has done pretty good. He works hard. He’s always trying to learn.”
Earl Wolff: “Cary Williams. He’s been locked-down since OTAs, breaking on everything, picking off everything. He’s gonna have a really big year.”
Jordan Matthews: “I’m gonna be honest… I think Shady’s [LeSean McCoy] gonna go off. He’s probably the clear-cut favorite, but lots of times, when you really watch people and you know, ‘OK, this is the best guy on the team…’ you’ve got Jason Peters, you’ve got Nick Foles, you’ve got guys like that. But he’s probably the face of the Eagles right now. But then you see him go out there and work the way he does. He never wants to miss practice, and he plays full speed even in preseason games. Then you know, OK, he’s ready to go off. So I think people got a glimpse of it in our tuneup game against the Steelers. He’s about to go off, without a doubt in my mind.”
Brandon Graham: “Malcolm Jenkins… that boy came in, he’s focused all the time. I can see nothing but big things for him. Just the way he works, the way he studies film, it’s just not talk. I see him in meetings looking at film. Especially when he’s talking to the little guys, he’s definitely a great example.”
Matt Barkley: “Clearly, I think Shady [LeSean McCoy] is gonna have a crazy year. I haven’t known him that long, but just his work ethic even from last year to this year seems to be on another level. He just seems to take it more seriously and handle business. It’s been cool to see. Jordan Matthews I think is a guy that has stood out to a lot of us, just from his work ethic too and consistency with route-running and catching the ball. And J-Mac [Jeremy Maclin] looks healthy. He looks smooth and fast. It’ll be fun to really watch him for the first time for a full year and to see how he works. So those three guys.”
Fletcher Cox: “I think Beau Allen took a big step. I think he’s catching up. He’s still a little behind on the speed of the game, but you can tell he’s stepping his game up to being where he needs to be, to get ready. …I think he’s like 340 pounds, big guy, but he can move.”
Bennie Logan: “I would say [Darren] Sproles. We knew what kind of player he was, how dynamic he was when we picked him up from the Saints. But just to practice against him, see how explosive and quick and fast he is, I’m just looking for him to really have a breakout year – on special teams and on the offensive side of the ball.”