Offense Game Review: Bell Still Struggling

Here’s a player-by-player look at how the Eagles’ offense performed Friday night against the Browns, after having re-watched the game.

Nick Foles – He finished 12-for-19 for 146 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. You’ll have a very difficult time right now finding anyone who thinks he doesn’t deserve the backup job. As Andy Reid said, Foles got greedy on the interception. It’s fine to take that shot if DeSean Jackson has one-on-one coverage, but not a smart throw with the safety there also. On the first touchdown, he waited as long as he could before seeing Brent Celek release and lofting a pass for the 7-yard TD. Foles once again showed the ability to fit the ball into tight spaces on the 2-yard score to Dion Lewis. And he connected with Damaris Johnson on a 45-yard bomb. Foles has been the story this preseason for the Eagles. Be sure to check out T-Mac’s story on him from this morning.

Trent Edwards – The numbers look great: 14-for-17 for 127 yards. But Edwards was doing a lot of dinking-and-dunking, and was going up against backups in the second half, so let’s not get carried away. Good patience and good throw to Brett Brackett for a 20-yard completion in the third. Don’t know what Edwards was thinking on the pick-six that was called back for roughing the passer. I guess he was throwing the ball away? Still don’t see him making the roster.

LeSean McCoy – Got a couple touches early on before heading to the sideline. McCoy took a screen 11 yards and had one carry that resulted in a 4-yard loss. Now is the time for rest. Things aren’t going to come as easy for him with Jason Peters no longer at left tackle.

Stanley Havili – Ran with the first team. Havili ran into a brick wall on his only carry, picking up a yard in the red zone. It’ll either be him or someone not currently on the roster as the first-team fullback in Week 1.

Dion Lewis – On the touchdown catch, he started out in the backfield to Foles’ left before motioning out wide to the right. Lewis was matched up against the safety, started towards the corner of the end zone, then changed direction to the middle of the field for the score. The throw was perfect, but give Lewis credit. He had a safety on his back and a linebacker closing in, but held on. Later, he took a screen 22 yards. Lewis did that a lot at Lehigh. Could be a nice option during the regular season. As a runner, he had just 4 yards on five carries, but didn’t get very good blocking with the second-team offensive line. As a blocker, it wasn’t a fair fight, but he did nothing to slow down Juqua Parker with his chip on the play where the former Eagles defensive end slammed Foles to the ground.

Bryce Brown – Seven carries for 18 yards. Brown made a defender miss in the backfield and picked up 4. And later, he had a nice 7-yard cutback run. He leaped over the pile at the goal line, but had the ball slapped out of his hands. I’m surprised that doesn’t happen more often on those plays. As a blocker, he missed his man on the Edwards INT that was called back. Feeling strongly that he makes the final roster.

Chris Polk – Six carries for 39 yards, 20 of which came on one run late in the fourth quarter when the Eagles were running clock. Polk has been an excellent blocker all summer, but he missed a blitz pickup in the fourth. He’s on the bubble, with the likelihood being he doesn’t make it.

Emil Igwenagu – Had one carry for no gain and a pair of catches for 17 yards. Can’t see him making the roster.

DeSean Jackson – Foles took a shot to him deep in the first that was intercepted. Didn’t play much. That was his only target.

Jeremy Maclin – Had an 8-yard grab in the red zone to set up the Eagles’ first touchdown. Caught a screen on the next play that was blown up for no gain.

Jason Avant – No catches, no targets.

Damaris Johnson – He was the Eagles’ leading receiver with two catches for 58 yards. Johnson got the ball in space on a shallow cross in the second and made defenders miss for a 13-yard pickup. Good-looking play. He deserves more credit than Foles on the 45-yard completion – great adjustment and concentration. Johnson delivered a nice effort on the 23-yard touchdown that was called back. He and Foles have developed a nice chemistry.

Chad Hall – Squarely on the roster bubble. Had one catch for 10 yards. Foles targeted him on another play and tried to fit one in between three Browns defenders, but the linebacker got his hand on the ball.

Marvin McNutt – Also on the bubble. Targeted on a slant, but the ball went right through his hands. Later, McNutt ran an identical pattern on the other side of the field for 13 yards. Certainly doesn’t look like a contributor as a rookie, but has a chance to sneak onto the roster.

Brent Celek – He was helping Dennis Kelly as a blocker, but then released at the last second, just in time for Foles to find him for a 7-yard touchdown. Celek broke a tackle around the 2. He had another grab for 8 yards.

Clay Harbor – No targets, no catches. Limited playing time.

Brett Brackett – Three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown. His 20-yard catch got the Eagles in the red zone in the third, and Brackett delivered a great effort on the 4-yard touchdown. As a blocker, he did a good job on Lewis’ 22-yard screen, but a poor job in pass protection on the Edwards INT that was called back. Longshot to make the team, although I’m not ready to rule it out completely.

Chase Ford – Two catches for 16 yards.

King Dunlap – I thought he played pretty well. Dunlap started the game and then rotated with Demetress Bell. He did a nice job in pass protection on Foles’ 13-yard completion to Johnson. Dunlap had a little bit of an issue around the edge on the Foles TD to Johnson that was called back. And he couldn’t hold his block on a Lewis run that lost 2 yards in the second. If the goal is to keep Michael Vick upright, Dunlap is clearly a better option than Bell at this point. Not sure he gives you much in the run game, but that’s probably secondary right now.

Demetress Bell – I don’t mean to be harsh, but he just looks really uncomfortable and is constantly chasing pass rushers from behind as they rush the quarterback. A Browns defensive lineman blew right past him on a backside block, dropping McCoy for a 4-yard loss. Keep in mind, that was a play that was not even run to Bell’s side. He got beat by an inside move on third down, forcing Foles to escape the pocket. He had trouble with the defensive end going around the edge on the Foles touchdown pass to Lewis. He got beat inside on a Foles incompletion to Hall. And he missed his block on a linebacker as Igwenagu got stuffed for no gain in the third. If you want a bright spot, Bell gave good effort on a block that helped spring Brackett for the 4-yard TD. I just can’t see the Eagles putting him out there to start the season unless a light bulb suddenly goes on in the next two weeks.

Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Danny Watkins – Including these guys together because they each just played eight snaps. Seven of those were pass plays, and they held up well in protection.

Dennis Kelly – He got the start at right tackle for Todd Herremans, who missed the game because of a death in the family. Kelly had ups and downs, but did not look overmatched. He had some trouble with the bull rush of Jabaal Sheard, getting pushed back into the pocket in the first. And Kelly had some trouble late in the first half as Foles escaped and threw incomplete to Hall. Good job one-on-one in pass protection on Foles’ deep attempt to Hall. In the run game, it looked like he did a decent job on Lewis’ 4-yard run to the right. Later, he had trouble with Parker on Lewis’ run that picked up 1. There’s a chance he’s active on gamedays as the first reserve tackle – at least early in the season.

Julian Vandervelde – He played with the second group at guard and then gave center a shot. At guard, he did a good job in pass protection on Foles’ touchdown pass to Lewis. Vandervelde also had a nice block on Brown’s 7-yard run. It looked like either he or Steve Vallos should have picked up the DE, who looped inside and rushed Edwards untouched on the TD to Brackett. At center, he had issues. Vandervelde had a bad snap/fumble in the fourth that Polk recovered. And later, on third down in the red zone, he snapped the ball before Edwards was ready. Don’t think the Eagles will be comfortable with him as the backup center to start the season.

Steve Vallos – He played center with the second team, and I think right now has a good shot to make the 53-man roster. The defensive tackle got past him and Vandervelde in the second on Foles’ 13-yard completion to Johnson. But later, Vallos did a good job of picking up a blitzer on the 45-yard completion to Johnson. He also made a nice block on Brown’s 7-yard run in the third.

Dallas Reynolds – He played right guard with the second team and delivered possibly the best pancake block we’ve seen out of an Eagles offensive lineman this preseason. Reynolds just crushed linebacker Craig Robertson on Lewis’ 22-yard screen. Earlier, the defensive tackle beat him to the inside and hit Foles in the second. And Reynolds was slow to get to Parker on the play where he slammed Foles to the ground. Squarely on the roster bubble right now.

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Offense Review: Dunlap Has Edge Over Bell

Here’s a player-by-player breakdown of how the Eagles’ offense performed Monday night, after having re-watched the game. Check out the linebacker review here, the defensive line review here and the defensive back review here.

Michael Vick – Lasted just six plays before leaving the game with a rib injury. Vick was 1-for-3 for 5 yards. He also ran once for 5 yards and slid awkwardly, going head-first and barely missing a knee to the helmet by Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes. Vick misfired to Jason Avant on third down, but it looked like Avant was covered anyway. We may not see the starting quarterback again until Week 1 in Cleveland.

Nick Foles – There was a lot to like about his performance. The one thing that stood out was he’s willing to stand in the pocket, deliver the football and absorb hits. On Foles’ first pass attempt, he hit LeSean McCoy for 8 yards, but took a hit from Chandler Jones. Later, he took a huge, blind-side hit (a flag was thrown) from Jake Bequette, but stood in the face of some pressure on the next play and connected with Clay Harbor for 14 yards. Two other things: He fit the ball into tight windows, and he can throw on the move. Foles delivered a beauty to DeSean Jackson in the red zone, squeezing the ball in between two Patriots defenders and targeting Jackson low so that he could avoid a big hit. He threw Brent Celek open, even though the tight end looked to be covered initially. And he made nice throws on both touchdowns to Harbor – one while rolling to his right, the other in a perfect place so that the defender couldn’t get his hand on it.

Was Foles perfect? Of course not. He was nearly intercepted on a throw to the sideline in the first half, and he was picked off at the end of the second quarter. But overall, he looked comfortable and confident. Good signs for a rookie QB.

Trent Edwards – Can’t say I watched him closely. Edwards entered the game in the fourth and went 6-for-11 for 59 yards. With Vick and Mike Kafka injured, he’ll see the field plenty in the next two weeks.

LeSean McCoy – He looked fine with seven carries for 30 yards and a touchdown, along with two catches for 12. I’m not so sure I would have played him as much as Andy Reid did, but perhaps McCoy will sit in the final two games. As a blocker, he pretty much whiffed on Jermaine Cunningham on a third down. Later, though, McCoy had a nice blitz pickup on Foles’ 24-yard run. He and Foles had a fumbled exchange in the third.

Dion Lewis – Did not get a lot of work – three carries for 9 yards. Lewis broke a tackle on one run, turning what would have been a loss into a 4-yard gain. He should play a lot in the final two games.

Stanley Havili – He did pretty much everything he could to stake claim on the fullback job. Havili had a nice 14-yard run up the middle on the fake toss to McCoy to set up the first touchdown. Note that he started the play lined up on the right side between Todd Herremans and Avant. Good-looking play and execution. Havili did a solid job as a lead blocker on McCoy’s touchdown run. And he delivered a big-time hit in punt coverage in the second quarter. The Eagles could still add a fullback in the coming weeks, but it’s very possible that they go with Havili.

Emil Igwenagu – Didn’t get into the game until the fourth quarter. It’d be an upset in my eyes if he made the roster at this point.

Bryce Brown – Had a couple really good-looking runs late. Brown carried nine times for 51 yards, including a 27-yard scamper up the middle in the third. Brown also had two catches for 16 yards. Don’t see the Eagles letting him get away when they cut down to 53.

Chris Polk – Had four carries for 11 yards. Good, tough run to pick up a first on 3rd-and-1 in the fourth. Doesn’t look like there’s going to be a spot for him though.

DeSean Jackson – He finished as the game’s leading receiver with four catches for 82 yards. Nice catch and run on a crossing pattern for 15 yards in the first. Jackson made an 11-yard grab at the 2-yard-line to set up the Eagles’ second touchdown. Remember, he only had two red-zone catches all of last year. He had a 16-yard grab in the third and made a nice play on the ball for a 40-yard pickup. As Jon Gruden pointed out, Jackson should have done a better job of coming back to the football when Foles broke the pocket, threw his way and was nearly picked off. Jackson hustled to make a tackle after the Foles interception and taunted Patriots defender Nate Ebner afterwards. Always entertaining, that No. 10.

Jeremy Maclin – Quiet game. His one catch for 15 yards came in the third quarter.

Jason Avant – One catch for Avant too. He made a nice adjustment on the ball over the middle at the end of the first half.

Damaris Johnson – Not an especially good showing for the rookie. He fumbled the first punt, before picking it back up. And Johnson dropped a slant for the second straight week; this time, it was on third down. He finished with one catch for 23 yards.

Chad Hall – He came in with the second team and had three catches for 26 yards, including a nice 15-yard grab over the middle in the fourth.

Marvin McNutt – Was not targeted. Good effort blocking on a Brown run, but he was called for holding.

Brent Celek – I’ve seen some criticize him for his blocking on the play where Vick was injured. But Celek actually did a decent job on the play. Nearly five seconds elapsed from the time the ball was snapped to when Cunningham hit Vick. And the hit occurred 16 yards behind the line of scrimmage. That’s not on Celek. On McCoy’s touchdown run, he had a nice block on the safety. And Celek was initially covered, but did a good job of working to get open on a 13-yard gain in the third.

Clay Harbor – Good game from Harbor. Six targets, six catches, 30 yards and two touchdowns. Nice job of keeping his feet in bounds on the first score. As a blocker, he did a good job on McCoy’s 5-yard run in the first. Harbor lined up in the slot to the right and made a nice block on McCoy’s 9-yard run. Has really had a strong camp and preseason.

King Dunlap – He had some issues, but overall played pretty well. On an early running play, Dunlap did a good job shoving the DE out of the way, but he stumbled and fell to the ground as he made his way to the linebacker. He blocked first-round pick Chandler Jones one-on-one effectively, with a couple exceptions. Jones got past him and hit Foles on his first pass attempt. And Jones pressured Foles in the second, but a Patriots defensive back was whistled for a flag. Dunlap was called for a false start in the second. Overall, expect him to stay at left tackle with the first team – for now.

Evan Mathis – We’ve already discussed the play where Vick got injured. Mathis thought he had help from Jason Kelce, and Kyle Love got past him. To Mathis’ credit, he hustled back and held Love to keep him away from the quarterback. It’s the preseason – take the penalty and protect Vick. Of course, the refs didn’t throw the flag, and Cunningham ended up being the one who hit Vick from the other side. Later in the game, Mathis was slow to pick up a blitzer on 3rd-and-1, but Foles escaped and ran for 24 yards. In the run game, he did a good job getting to the linebacker on Havili’s 14-yard run.

Jason Kelce – Other than a 15-yard penalty for shoving a Patriots defender after the whistle had blown, Kelce played well. Good job on McCoy’s 5-yard run in the first. And nice block, creating space for Havili’s 14-yard run. Didn’t see any issues in pass protection.

Danny Watkins – The second-year player, on the other hand, had some issues in pass protection. Watkins had trouble with Ron Brace, who nearly sacked Foles and forced an incompletion on third down. Watkins was asked to pull and block the right defensive end/outside linebacker multiple times on play-action passes. He was effective on a couple and slow to get there on others. Watkins got beat by Brandon Deaderick on the shovel pass to Harbor in the third that was called back for a holding penalty. He showed his strength in pass protection early on, shoving Spikes to the ground in the first. Not quite out of the valley of darkness just yet.

Todd Herremans – See the Celek notes above if you’re wondering about Herremans’ responsibility on the Cunningham hit on Vick. Again, not really his fault. I’ve noticed offensive linemen seemingly take advantage of the replacement refs with how they use their hands. Herremans had trouble with defensive end Trevor Scott in protection and grabbed him by his facemask in the second, but the refs missed it. In the run game, Herremans did a good Jason Peters impression on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the second, shoving the DE upfield and getting to the second level. He also did a good job on McCoy’s touchdown run around the right side.

Demetress Bell – He doesn’t look comfortable to me. Bell entered the game at the start of the third and had trouble in pass protection on Foles’ completion to Maclin. On another play, he got beat by Bequette, but then recovered as Foles stepped up. Bell did not do an effective job of shoving Bequette upfield on a Lewis run in the third. He got beat by Bequette around the edge in the fourth and was called for a false start (might have been two) and a holding penalty. Bell was slow to get off the ball on a Brown run that lost 2 yards in the fourth. If I had to put down a wager right now, I’d say he is on the bench in Week 1.

** Don’t have a lot on the offensive line backups. But here’s what the second-team looked like from left to right: Bell, Julian Vandervelde, Steve Vallos, Dallas Reynolds and Dennis Kelly. Vallos at center ahead of Reynolds and Vandervelde was a bit of a surprise. Kelly had his share of issues in pass protection. And Vandervelde played better than last week.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at

Eagles Training Camp Winners And Losers

Philadelphia Eagles running back Dion Lewis.Now that training camp has moved from Lehigh to South Philly, it’s time to look back on which Eagles helped themselves and hurt themselves in the last three weeks.


Damaris Johnson – When training camp started, it appeared that Johnson’s best (and perhaps only) chance to make the roster would be a special-teams role. The undrafted free agent out of Tulsa, who set an NCAA record with 7,796 all-purpose yards, remains the favorite to take over punt-return duties from DeSean Jackson.

But the surprise at Lehigh has been Johnson’s ability as a receiver. In college, he caught 188 balls for 2,746 yards and 17 touchdowns, averaging nearly 63 catches per season and 14.6 yards per reception. With Riley Cooper sidelined and Jeremy Maclin dealing with a hamstring injury, Johnson’s had a chance to run with the first team, and he’s made the most of it. While not the biggest guy (5-8, 175), he seems to have picked up the offense well, especially considering he’s a rookie. In the preseason game against the Steelers, Johnson put a tremendous double-move on Keenan Lewis, leaving the cornerback on the ground and running free for a 70-yard touchdown from Nick Foles.

There are still three weeks to go, but Johnson is slated to be the primary punt returner and will add depth at wide receiver. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted in April.

Dion Lewis – The truth is his struggles as a kickoff returner probably affected his reputation as a runner during Lewis’ rookie season. But the second-year back consistently looked like a playmaker at camp, specifically in the passing game. As I mentioned yesterday, the Eagles were not particularly effective in the screen game last year, but perhaps that’s an area where Lewis can help.

Until Week 17, Lewis played just 19 total snaps last season, too small of a number to judge whether he can be effective. In the first preseason game, he looked good in blitz pickup, something that is essential to get on the field in the Eagles’ offense. The team didn’t go out and sign a veteran running back this offseason, and they waited until the seventh round to draft one (Bryce Brown). They clearly have a level of trust in Lewis and believe he can back up LeSean McCoy and spell him for a handful of snaps each game.

Mychal Kendricks – Some are getting a bit too nit-picky with the rookie linebacker. Does he remind anyone of Ray Lewis? Of course not. But based on the last three weeks, Kendricks will provide a much-needed upgrade at the SAM spot. He made a couple early errors in the first preseason game against the Steelers, but also flashed his speed and finished with four solo tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage.

The Eagles have played their usual game of musical chairs with the linebackers in the nickel package. DeMeco Ryans has been one of them since the spring. Brian Rolle started out there at the beginning of camp. Then it was Jamar Chaney. However, with Chaney fighting through a hamstring injury, Kendricks has been given a shot. And the guess here is that he won’t be giving it up. Juan Castillo having the flexibility to keep Ryans and Kendricks on the field for all three downs will help the Eagles reduce some of the confusion and miscommunication we saw with this defense in 2011.


Jaiquawn Jarrett – The criticism is not all about his play against the Steelers. Remember, Jarrett couldn’t get on the field as a rookie. And he didn’t contribute on special teams. In the spring, while coaches were using the lockout-shortened offseason as a reason for why the team struggled in 2011, no one expressed confidence that Jarrett would really push Kurt Coleman for the starting job in 2012.

Meanwhile, the Birds added veteran Oshiomogho Atogwe, and Coleman and Nate Allen have remained the first-team safeties.

Jarrett, meanwhile, flashed his talents during one training camp practice, forcing a couple fumbles and delivering the big hits he made his name on in college at Temple. But when given the chance to make his  mark in the first preseason game, he looked like the worst player on the field, taking bad angles and missing tackles.

It’s not over yet for Jarrett, and he might benefit from the Eagles not really having a lot of other options for safety depth. But he needs to get things together quickly.

Demetress Bell – As I wrote this morning, left tackle has quickly emerged as one of this team’s biggest concerns. When Jason Peters went down in the offseason, the Eagles looked wise in being pro-active and signing Bell, widely considered the best available left tackle on the market.

But after three weeks at Lehigh, Bell has been bumped on the first team in favor of King Dunlap. That whole story Andy Reid is selling about how this was a scheduled switch? Not buying it. The Eagles didn’t sign Dunlap until March 30, coincidentally the same day we found out about Jason Peters’ Achilles injury. At the time, the Eagles had no options to play left tackle, and Dunlap provided an insurance plan. He’s worked hard to carve out a spot as a backup (remember, Dunlap also played guard for a game last year), but is not someone the Eagles want to count on as a starter for 16 games.

The job is Bell’s for the taking. The question is: Will he be able to do enough in the next three weeks to show Howard Mudd he can be trusted? Remember, Mudd started Danny Watkins in camp last year, didn’t think he was ready and then replaced him with journeyman Kyle DeVan to start the season. Against the Steelers, Bell was asked to block his man one-on-one in pass protection twice. He got beat both times. And on one play, Michael Vick had to step up in the pocket to escape pressure, eventually banging his thumb against Jason Kelce’s helmet.

If Bell doesn’t improve in the coming weeks, he’ll start the season on the bench.

Mike Kafka – He was a giant question mark entering camp, and Kafka did little to alleviate concerns in the first preseason game, going 5-for-9 for 31 yards and an interception.

Granted, it was limited action, but he averaged just 3.4 yards per attempt. The question with Kafka is arm strength. The Eagles’ offense is based on getting the ball to its playmakers (DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin) downfield. If Kafka can’t make all the throws, Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid will have to change the offense dramatically when he enters the game.

Now that Kafka has a fractured left hand, it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to participate in any of the three remaining preseason games. And while the Nick Foles love has gotten out of hand (considering it’s based on six completed passes), the rookie will now get a chance to make his mark with the second team in Kafka’s absence.

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Eagles Release Depth Chart

Philadelphia Eagles running back Dion Lewis.The Eagles have released their depth chart for Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Steelers.

Not a lot of surprises, but here are some notes.


* The quarterbacks are listed as you’d expect behind Michael Vick: Mike Kafka, Nick Foles and Trent Edwards. Edwards’ days on the roster are clearly numbered. Kafka’s your backup. There’s no battle there.

* At running back, Dion Lewis is listed behind LeSean McCoy. Bryce Brown is third, and Chris Polk is fourth. Lewis has had an excellent camp and is the clear favorite to back up McCoy in the regular season. Brown has a good shot to make the roster, but Polk has shown flashes during recent practices. That’s still a competition to keep an eye on.

* Stanley Havili is the first-team fullback, ahead of Emil Igwenagu (second) and Jeremy Stewart (third).

* No surprises at wide receiver. Chad Hall is ahead of undrafted rookie free agent Damaris Johnson, but I think Johnson has a great shot of beating him out for a roster spot.

* Tight end is what you’d expect: Brent Celek, followed by Clay Harbor and Brett Brackett.

* Rookie Dennis Kelly is listed behind Todd Herremans at right tackle, but King Dunlap would be the first tackle off the bench at either spot in the regular season. He’ll likely be the only tackle active on gamedays. And don’t forget, Dunlap played guard last year too.

* Dallas Reynolds is listed as the backup center, but as Julian Vandervelde told me recently, all of the Eagles’ backup interior linemen who make the roster are going to be expected to play both guard and center. We’ll see if Vandervelde plays some center in Thursday night’s game.


* With Mike Patterson out, Derek Landri is listed as the first-team defensive tackle. That’s consistent with what we’ve seen out here at practice. Fletcher Cox and Antonio Dixon are the second-team defensive tackles. Cedric Thornton is third, although he has a shot to make the roster. Cullen Jenkins is listed as a first-team tackle, although he’s been playing some defensive end with Jason Babin sidelined.

* Brandon Graham and Darryl Tapp are your second-team defensive ends. Vinny Curry and Phillip Hunt are with the third team. Curry is a lock to make the roster. Hunt is battling for a spot.

* DeMeco Ryans, Brian Rolle and Mychal Kendricks are your starting linebackers. The Eagles were in nickel (two linebackers, five defensive backs) about 47 percent of the time last season. At the start of camp, Ryans and Rolle stayed on the field. Then it was Ryans and Jamar Chaney. With Chaney injured, it’s been Ryans and Kendricks.

* Keenan Clayton is third on the depth chart at WILL, behind Rolle and Chaney. Casey Matthews is the backup middle linebacker. Akeem Jordan is behind Kendricks at SAM.

* Slot cornerback is not listed, but Joselio Hanson still has a hold on the No. 1 spot there and will try to fight off rookie Brandon Boykin in the coming weeks.

* The safeties are what you’d expect. Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman are the starters, with Oshiomogho Atogwe and Jaiquawn Jarrett as the backups.


* Mat McBriar is listed as the first-team punter, ahead of Chas Henry. If McBriar is healthy, he is the favorite to win that job.

* Johnson is the first-team punt returner, and Boykin is the first-team kickoff returner. Special teams might be the No. 1 thing to watch on Thursday night. The Eagles need to get more out of their return games in 2012.

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Spotlight On Dion Lewis

With a full season under his belt, we still know very little about Dion Lewis. That’s because we were all busy learning so much about LeSean McCoy.

“That is probably my mistake,” said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. “I always went into a game wanting to use [Lewis] a little bit more and then you get into a game and every play is important, and LeSean was so good last year, it was hard to take LeSean out. And it will still be hard to play LeSean out, but certainly would like to play the other fellas a little bit more. Dion has earned that role up to date.”

With that last sentence, you get the feeling that rookies Bryce Brown and Chris Polk really have their work cut out for them if they plan on securing the No. 2 role.

Just how little was Lewis used last season? He got plenty of work in the regular-season finale with McCoy sidelined because of injury, with 12 of his 23 caries coming in that game.

In the 14 games he was active alongside McCoy, Lewis played in just 19 offensive snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. That averages out to just over on play per game.

We essentially know nothing about him as a pro player. He has impressed to this point at Lehigh, however.

“Dion has had an excellent camp up to date,” said Mornhinweg. “He sure is a fine runner, excellent with his protections. He’s probably a little shorter than one would think, but he’s certainly bigger. He’s a very strong and physical man. He’s doing a nice job in the pass game as well.”

Lewis followed McCoy at Pitt and put up similar numbers. Here’s what each did in their two seasons with the Panthers.

McCoy: 584 attempts,  2816 yards (4.8 avg.), 35 rushing TDs, 549 receiving yards.
Lewis: 544 attempts, 2,850 yards (5.3 avg.), 30 rushing TDs, 405 receiving yards.

“Dion was a fine player coming out of Pittsburgh. This guy’s a player. I’ve liked him since Day 1. He’s shown his natural ability since Day 1. He is a tough guy,” said Mornhinweg.

We know about his Pitt days. We know about his underwhelming campaign as a kick returner last season. We know about his offseason brush with the law.

This season is about finding out about Lewis as a pro back.

You can follow Tim McManus on Twitter and email him at 

Eagles Practice Observations

Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo talks to cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.One of the biggest criticisms Juan Castillo faced last year was that he completely misused Nnamdi Asomugha.

Asomugha earned the reputation of being one of the best man corners in the league while in Oakland. But when he arrived last summer, Castillo talked about using him in more of a Charles Woodson-type role. Covering tight ends, playing inside and outside, maybe even back as a safety on a given play or two.

While Castillo tweaked the defense as last season went on, one thing stayed the same: He used Asomugha in a variety of ways.

And based on the first full-squad practice at Lehigh, that’s going to happen in 2012 also.

On one of the first plays today, Asomugha lined up inside against backup tight end Chase Ford. Last year, playing Asmougha inside was simple because the Eagles had Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the outside. But Samuel’s gone, and the new wrinkle today was that Curtis Marsh lined up outside at right cornerback.

Marsh, a third-round pick in 2011, played only 13 defensive snaps as a rookie. But with Samuel gone, he’s looking to fill a bigger role in his second season.

“We rotate. We have different guys that do different things well. It’s by gameplan,” Marsh said.

Last year, Asomugha was effective against opposing tight ends. He was matched up against Jason Witten quite a bit, and the Cowboys tight end totaled just 52 yards receiving in two games against the Eagles.

“If you play a team with a really good tight end, we can virtually take that tight end out of the game, so that’s another advantage,” Marsh said.

Of course, this was only the first glimpse of the Eagles’ defense this summer, so there could be plenty of changes ahead.

Some other practice observations…

* Samuel, generally the most vocal player at training camp, is in Atlanta. And it looks like Darryl Tapp will assume the role of Eagle most likely to be heard during practice. “If you want to know who the energy source of our group is at practice, it’s Darryl,” Jim Washburn said earlier this week. Tapp is entering his seventh season, and Cullen Jenkins is entering his ninth, yet they were as enthusiastic as anyone in the 96-degree heat.

* You should take all depth chart notes with a grain of salt, but Derek Landri saw a lot of time with the first-team, alongside Jenkins, in Mike Patterson’s place. Landri played nearly 71 percent of the defensive snaps with the Panthers back in 2010, but many believed he would benefit from fewer snaps with the Eagles. And that turned out to be the case. Landri was an effective rotational player, and his playing time increased towards the end of the season (more than 50 percent of the team’s snaps in each of the last five games).

But if Patterson’s not ready to go when the Eagles play the Browns in Week 1, my money’s still on rookie Fletcher Cox to start alongside Jenkins.

* It looks like Dion Lewis will open camp as the No. 2 running back behind LeSean McCoy.

* The linebackers were lined up as you’d expect: DeMeco Ryans in the middle, Brian Rolle at the WILL and Mychal Kendricks at the SAM. There were quite a few different combinations in nickel: Ryans and Kendricks, Ryans and Rolle, Kendricks and Jamar Chaney. As linebackers coach Mike Caldwell pointed out earlier this week, there will likely be different nickel packages, based on down and distance. So seeing those different combinations is not surprising.

* Casey Matthews was in the middle with the second team. Chaney and Jordan were on the outside.

* Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman were the first-team safeties with Oshiomogho Atogwe and Jaiquawn Jarrett running with the second team.

* The second defensive line foursome featured Brandon Graham, Cox, Antonio Dixon and Tapp.

* I didn’t see rookie Brandon Boykin get any reps with the first-team nickel. Aside from the Asomugha/Marsh/Rodgers-Cromartie combination, Joselio Hanson mixed in to his usual spot. The second-team corners were Marsh and Brandon Hughes on the outside, with Boykin in the slot.

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Charges Against Dion Lewis Dropped

The charges against Eagles running back Dion Lewis have been dropped by the prosecution, according to his agent.

Lewis was charged with a felony count of falsely reporting a fire after allegedly  pulling a fire alarm in an Albany hotel.

The Pitt product is penciled in as the No.2 back behind LeSean McCoy, but could very well be erased if either of the rookies, Chris Polk or Bryce Brown, realize their potential. A couple offensive coaches weighed in on Brown today.

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