Nolan Caroll Continues To Impress

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Brandon Boykin was the camp standout on defense last year. Every day it seemed like the Georgia product made at least one play that commanded your attention. This year, that distinction belongs to Nolan Carroll.

It didn’t move the needle much when the Eagles signed the former Dolphin to a two-year, $5.25 million contract in free agency, but he has made an impression since his arrival.

His moment on Thursday (or at least one of them) came during 7-on-7s. Locked up with Jeremy Maclin, Carroll extended himself to break up a Nick Foles pass in the end zone. Those PBUs have become a regular occurrence.

“He’s a very well‑rounded talent,” said Billy Davis. “He’s got size, he’s got length, he’s got speed.  He’s a real tenacious competitor.  I love his attitude out there the way he presses and competes and puts his hands on the people, and he’s got a good knack for the ball.”

Who knows if a solid summer will translate into a productive fall like it did for Boykin but Carroll continues to impress, even if he’s not all that impressed with himself. Read more »

Camp Notes: Wolff Runs With the Ones

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

For much of the spring and summer, Nate Allen has occupied the starting safety spot opposite Malcolm Jenkins. On Wednesday, though, it was Earl Wolff running with the ones.

“I saw it this morning,” said Wolff, speaking about the depth chart. “I don’t think too much of it. I just went in there, made a couple plays.”

“I thought he did well,” added Jenkins. “As far as communications he was loud, he was on point, he thought before the play. I know they’re going to be continuously rotating — even I was with the twos a couple practices ago — it’s good for him to get that exposure, those reps, and I’m watching the competition just like you guys.” Read more »

Notes: A Chippy Start To Camp

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Another day, another dust-up here at Eagles training camp.

Today it was Jeremy Maclin and the normally mild-mannered Bradley Fletcher squaring off. The two were going head-to-head during team drills and started having words after the whistle. Next thing you know, punches were being  thrown and a big crowd gathered to separate the two.

Practice ended a short time later. Maclin exited the field without speaking to reporters. Fletcher didn’t offer much.

“We’re just playing ball,” he said. “Emotions got going and one thing led to another.”

Cary Williams, meanwhile, had plenty to say on the subject. He held court out on Lincoln Financial Field and was still speaking long after the rest of his teammates had gone into the locker room. He has a soft spot for this particular topic of conversation.

“I’m glad, to be honest with you,” said Williams of the fights at training camp this year. Read more »

Eagles Training Camp Preview: Cornerbacks

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Leading up to training camp on July 25, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We have already covered the defensive linequarterbacksoutside linebackers, running backs and inside linebackers. Now it’s on to the cornerbacks.

The pressing question: Can Nolan Carroll II push for a starting job?

The best bet for the Eagles’ defense going into 2014 is that this unit will return 10 of 11 starters from a year ago – the only exception being new safety Malcolm Jenkins.

But if you want a position battle to watch on that side of the ball, it’s at cornerback. Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher were the starters last year, but the team signed Carroll from the Dolphins in the offseason. The 27-year-old started 12 games in Miami last year and 10 more in 2012. He has adequate size, plays with great effort and only missed seven tackles the past two seasons, per Pro Football Focus. Read more »

Why Size At Corner Matters To Eagles

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

Chip Kelly led with size when extolling the virtues of free-agent acquisition Nolan Carroll last week.

“We had him targeted very early as a guy we wanted to bring into this organization,” the head coach said. “I think he’s got the requisite length that we are looking for at the corner spot, especially as an outside corner.”

Another blow dealt to those hoping Brandon Boykin will be given a starting role this season.

The argument for moving Boykin outside is pretty straightforward: The 23-year-old finished second in the league with six interceptions last year while playing only half the time. Why not give the playmaker more opportunity to make plays?

There is merit to that line of thinking. But the Eagles are looking at it another way. Big picture, they see a league that is getting flooded with giants at the wide receiver position, and are trying to properly arm themselves so they at least have  a fighting chance against them.

Read more »

Williams, ‘D’ Eager To Wash Out Bad Taste

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Cary Williams still thinks about the horse collar tackle. He replays it in his mind and believes he could have taken down Darren Sproles without drawing that costly penalty. He  thinks about instances where he allowed a running back to drag him for extra yards rather than just taking out his legs. He thinks about the loss to the Saints, and other missteps along the way, and it bothers him.

“Every season, every team wants to focus on winning the Super Bowl, and when you fall short it leaves a nasty taste in your mouth. So I think everybody that’s here is hungry. Everybody here is motivated, everybody that’s here wants to win. The way that we went out last year is something that we couldn’t necessarily be proud of,” said Williams. “There are some plays that left a bad taste in my mouth and there are several guys that feel the same way.” Read more »

Offseason Outlook: Cornerbacks

Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) celebrates with his teammates on the field after making an interception in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Brandon Boykin (22) celebrates with his teammates on the field after making an interception in the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. The Eagle beat the Cowboys 24-22. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports


This week, we’ll continue to offer offseason outlooks for the Eagles, position-by-position. Each day, we’ll answer a pressing question and rank the position on the priority scale. First up was quarterback. We covered running backswide receiverstight endsoffensive line, defensive lineoutside linebackers and inside linebackers. Now let’s look at their cornerbacks. Read more »

Three Eagles Leftovers

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From Connor Barwin’s role to Chip Kelly’s love for DeMeco Ryans to Cary Williams’ future, here are three Eagles leftovers.

1. The Eagles’ two outside linebacker positions were not created equal in 2013. Trent Cole made the transition from defensive end, usually lining up on the right side. Barwin’s spot was labeled the “jack” by Billy Davis, as in jack of all trades. That meant Barwin usually lined up on the left side and dropped back into coverage far more often than Cole.

According to Pro Football Focus, Barwin dropped 42.3 percent of the time on passing downs and rushed the QB 57.7 percent of the time.

“I can do it so it fits my skill set and I’m fine with it,” Barwin said last week. “Whatever way Billy [Davis] wants to use me. And I’m sure, who knows how it’ll evolve next year? I could see myself being in a similar role or I could see it being different. It just matters how this defensive evolves, what happens. But I don’t mind at all. I think it makes our defense better. I think Billy did a great job of utilizing the talent that we had.” Read more »

Wake-Up Call: The ‘Batting Average’ Approach

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There was no good reason for the Eagles to swing for the fences in free agency last season.

They were coming off a 4-12 campaign and were in the midst of an organizational reboot. The focus was on foundation building and no one knew exactly how long that build would take; it made little sense to splurge for big-ticket players at that time. Instead, they went shopping for “mid-level” free agents and ended up with the likes of Connor Barwin, James Casey, Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Patrick Chung, Donnie Jones, Jason Phillips, Isaac Sopoaga and Kenny Phillips. Some good, some bad, some in-between. Decent return rate.

“That group as a whole I think contributed a lot to our football team. We certainly weren’t perfect on our free-agent signings but I thought it matched what was out there in free agency last year and served us well,” said Howie Roseman.

The team is in a much different place than it was a year ago. The turnaround happened quickly, and Chip Kelly claimed an NFC East title in his first year. The Eagles are further along and presumably in position to contend. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will alter their plan when free agency opens on March 11. Last year’s approach was more about a shift in philosophy than it was a reaction to circumstance. Read more »

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