Eagles Wake Up Call: RB Training Camp Preview

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Leading up to training camp on August 2, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. Let’s start with the running backs.

The pressing question: Can DeMarco Murray do it again?

The reigning rushing champ racked up 1,845 yards on the ground and outgained his closest competitor (Le’Veon Bell) by nearly 500 yards in 2014, yet has curiously faced a degree of criticism from some members of the running back fraternity for not doing more.

Former teammate Joseph Randle kickstarted the narrative by saying he felt like “there was a lot of meat left on the bone” last season.  Emmitt Smith followed that up by suggesting Murray could have run for 2,500 yards behind that Cowboys’ offensive line. LaDainian Tomlinson agrees. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Ertz Putting In the Work

Photo Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Ertz has spent the 2015 offseason tracking down extra edge.

He sought the counsel of tight end great Tony Gonzalez. Studied under former offensive line coach Hudson Houck to improve his blocking. For strength and conditioning, he joined Darren Sproles out in San Diego to work with renowned trainer Todd Durkin.

LaDainian Tomlinson was Durkin’s first NFL client, and the tree quickly grew branches from there. Tomlinson brought in Sproles and other Chargers teammates like Drew Brees, who has now been with Durkin for 12 years. The client list also features Aaron Rodgers, Carson Palmer and Reggie Bush, among others. Scroll down to the bottom left and you’ll find current Eagles tight end coach Justin Peele, who played 10 seasons in the league. Seeing the benefits of training with Durkin, Peele recommended that Ertz make the trip out west.

“The big thing that we want to do is number one, get Zach in the best shape of his life and then make sure he has the mental frame approach because he has been working with some of these elite guys,” said Durkin a couple weeks back. “Zach is one of these guys that has the ‘it’ factor. He has that mental ability and desire to be great, and he’s doing everything he needs to do to put himself into the upper-echelon of tight ends in the league. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Eagles Players Gather On West Coast

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

A good number of Eagles gathered in San Diego this week to get some work and a little bonding time in before the start of training camp.

There were 11 team members in all, including Mark Sanchez, Darren Sproles and Zach Ertz, who joined forces to host their own mini minicamp of sorts.

Sanchez has held offseason get-togethers dating back to his New York days — a week that was once known as “Jets West.” This year was more of a collaborative effort, as it was conducted with the help of renowned trainer Todd Durkin and his staff at Fitness Quest 10. Durkin, whose client list includes stars such as LaDainian Tomlinson and Drew Brees, has been working with Sproles for the past seven years and with Ertz since February. Together, they came up with a comprehensive program for the week.

“Every day they’ve had field work where they’ve been on the field and doing their install,” said Durkin. “After they do the weight room work they go over to the high school and they watch film for about an hour and then we do our warm-up with them and bring them through all their agility and movement stuff, and then Mark leads their install and they do all that.” Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Sproles’ Role In 2015

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

There has been a lot of turnover in the Eagles backfield the past few months, but one thing has stayed the same: the presence of Darren Sproles.

Sproles was acquired last offseason in a trade with the New Orleans Saints and immediately made an impact. In the season opener against the Jaguars, he took a handoff on 4th-and-1 and raced 49 yards to the end zone. The very next week, Sproles torched the Colts for 152 receiving yards and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week.

However, fewer opportunities and an injury he sustained against the Giants slowed Sproles’ production down the stretch. There were times after Mark Sanchez took over where the pair had chances for big plays in the passing game, but they were unable to capitalize. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: How Will Eagles Split Up Carries?

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Photo By Jeff Fusco

Today’s question comes via Twitter:

For the purpose of this exercise, let’s assume that you mean carries, not touches.

Chip Kelly has said he felt the run game relied too heavily on LeSean McCoy the past two seasons. Last year, Eagles running backs totaled 415 carries, and 312 of those (75.2 percent) were McCoy. Only DeMarco Murray (392) had more carries than McCoy in 2014.

In 2013, McCoy had 314 of the 400 carries by Eagles running backs, or 78.5 percent.

Obviously, when you sign two guys like Murray and Ryan Mathews, you expect to spread the carries around a little more, but I don’t see this as anything close to an equal time share. Read more »

Notes: Marcus Smith Nearing Return

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Marcus Smith has spent most of OTAs working off to the side with trainers.

He injured his right groin on the second day of spring practice, he said, and has been essentially a spectator since. After a rookie year full of frustrations, it wasn’t exactly the start to 2015 he was looking for.

“I was just like, ‘Something else. It’s gotta be something else,’ ” said Smith. “But I’m glad it happened now rather than later.”

The second-year outside linebacker did work in on some individual drills Monday and expects to participate in team drills come Wednesday. Read more »

Weekend Reading: A Role For Sproles

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Here are some Eagles-related links worth checking out this weekend.

Jeff McLane of the Inquirer wonders if Chip Kelly can find a bigger role for Darren Sproles in his offense:

Sproles was second on the team in carries (57) to McCoy (312) during the season, but after [LeSean] McCoy was traded to the Bills and [DeMarco] Murray and [Ryan] Mathews were brought in, Kelly spoke of more evenly distributing the workload.

Performance would seem to be the ultimate decider in how Kelly doles out playing time. But Sproles averaged 2.1 yards per snap to McCoy’s 1.9, 5.8 yards per rush to McCoy’s 4.2, and 9.7 yards per catch to McCoy’s 5.5 last season.
Read more »

Weekend Reading: Would Manuel Make Sense For Eagles?

EJ Manuel / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY

EJ Manuel / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY

Here are some Eagles-related links to check out this weekend.

According to NFL.com, there’s a chance the Bills might be looking to part ways with quarterback E.J. Manuel this summer. And Chris Wesseling thinks the Eagles could make sense as his potential next landing spot:

If the Bills end up dangling Manuel for a late-round pick in August, keep an eye on the Eagles as a potential trade partner.

After recruiting Manuel at Oregon, Chip Kelly told NFL Network in the lead-up to the 2013 NFL Draft that the former Florida State star was a player he “didn’t get a chance to coach but would like a chance to coach.”

Read more »

Ten Leftover Thoughts On the Eagles

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

Photo Credit: Jeff Fusco

It was an eventful few days for the Eagles during the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix.

We heard from Jeffrey Lurie on Tuesday, from Chip Kelly on Wednesday and had numerous conversations with other people around the league.

If you haven’t caught up on all our coverage, I suggest starting at the beginning and doing so now. Meanwhile, here are 10 leftover thoughts on the state of the Birds. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: ‘Backs Are Where It’s At

Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

INDIANAPOLIS — Before setting off on a two-hour, 45-minute voyage of a conference call with reporters this week, Mike Mayock took 30 seconds to provide an overview of the draft class that is set to descend on Indy for the Scouting Combine.

“I think [it’s] particularly deep at running back,” he said. “Although it might not be quite as deep at wide receiver as a year ago, it’s still going to be a very good wide receiver class. Correspondingly, it’s going to be very thin at quarterback and safety. And I think the rest of the positions are solid.”

Mayock certainly isn’t the only analyst/scout that is high on this running back class. The buzz isn’t quite as loud as it was for the historic wide receiver crop last year, but it’s at a pretty good hum.
Read more »

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