Bell Or Dunlap? Reid Won’t Publicly Commit

Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid.Andy Reid was vague when discussing his left tackle situation Wednesday. King Dunlap is back practicing after sitting out the last two games with a hamstring strain. Closer to when the injury first occurred, it appeared the job would go back to Dunlap when he was healthy. Bell has made progress since then, however, and the coaching staff was pleased with his performance against the Giants.

All things being equal, who is the starter?

“Well the one positive is Bell really played well in our game,” is the way Reid chose to respond. “That buys me a little time to see how King is doing.”

Will Dunlap be working with the first team at practice Wednesday?

“He’s going to work today. I’m just going to see how he’s feeling,” said Reid. “We’ll just see how everything works out there.”

Judging by those comments, the smart money would seem to be on Bell getting the nod against the Steelers. We’ll keep an eye on it.

Reid said that Derek Landri has swelling in his knee and will not practice. Akeem Jordan (hamstring) will also be sidelined.

“He’s close,” said Reid of Jordan, “but he’s not quite there yet.”

Jeremy Maclin was not mentioned on the injury report and Reid said his lack of production Sunday night was not related to the hip injury that forced him to sit out against Arizona.

“It was just how things fell,” said Reid. “He had a few plays that were dialed up for him and they covered that area with their zone coverage so you had to go in a different direction. That was just by chance. Jeremy, he’s fine.”

 

Hakeem Nicks Doubtful With Swollen Knee

For all the hype surrounding Victor Cruz‘s return to Lincoln Financial Field, it’s another Giants receiver who has been garnering the most attention inside the NovaCare walls.

“The first thing that Coach [Todd Bowles] said was, they’ve got a good pass attack but he pointed out [Hakeem] Nicks as being their complete receiver, or their number one receiver,” said Nnamdi Asomugha. “That’s what he kept saying: ‘This is the guy we’ve got to watch.’ Obviously in the slot when they come out and spread it, Victor starts to get more of the looks. But when they’re just playing base football? It’s a little more Nicks.”

Now it looks like their primary concern might not even take the field.

Nicks is listed as doubtful on the Giants injury report with a swollen knee. The 6-1 Nicks, coming off offseason foot surgery, was sidelined last Thursday against the Panthers. He practiced Thursday before this new injury cropped up.

Asomugha was given the news during a session with reporters Friday.

“Hmm,” he said. “I don’t know. That’s happened so many times. We’ll see.”

The rest of the Giants injury report looks like this:

Linebacker Keith Rivers, (hamstring), cornerback Jayron Hosley (hamstring) and right tackle David Diehl (knee) are all out. Cornerback Michael Coe (hamstring) and safety Antrel Rolle (knee) are questionable; running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), wide receiver Domenik Hixon (concussion), cornerback Corey Webster (hand) and defensive end Adewale Ojomo (hamstring) are all listed as probable for Sunday.

For the Eagles, King Dunlap and Akeem Jordan are out. That means Demetress Bell will get the nod once again at left tackle, and Jamar Chaney is expected to start at weakside linebacker. Riley Cooper suggested to reporters after practice that he will not play Sunday.

Jon Dorenbos (ankle) did practice, according to Andy Reid. His status is up in the air.

“I can’t tell you either way. He’s 50-50. He practiced today, though, and moved around pretty good,” said Reid.

Long-snapper Kyle Nelson was signed to the practice squad in case Dorenbos can’t go against the Giants.

Cooper, Dorenbos and Colt Anderson (knee) are all officially listed as questionable.

Jeremy Maclin (hip) is “ready to go,” Reid said.

Eagles-Cardinals Injury Report

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy MaclinHere’s a look at the Eagles and Cardinals injury report heading into Sunday’s game:

Cardinals

Questionable: QB John Skelton (ankle), TE Todd Heap (knee), S Rashad Johnson (hamstring), S James Sanders (calf), G Adam Snyder (elbow), S Adrian Wilson (ankle).

Probable: G Daryn Colledge (shoulder), CB Jamell Fleming (shoulder), RB Beanie Wells (knee); S Kerry Rhodes (foot), TE Jeff King (knee), OLB O’Brien Schofield (knee), RB Ryan Williams (knee).

 

Eagles

Out: WR Riley Cooper (collarbone), T King Dunlap (hamstring), WR Jeremy Maclin (hip)

Probable: S Colt Anderson (knee), WR Jason Avant (wrist), WR DeSean Jackson (hamstring), CB Curtis Marsh (hamstring)

Jeremy Maclin Ruled Out For Cardinals Game

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy MaclinJeremy Maclin did not practice Friday and is listed as out for Sunday’s game against the Cardinals.

King Dunlap and Riley Cooper are also out. Everyone else practiced and should be ready to go, per Andy Reid.

Maclin re-injured his hip against the Ravens last week. He practiced in a limited capacity Thursday but shut it down on Friday.

By the sounds of it, rookie Damaris Johnson has been bumped up to take Maclin’s place.

“You always want to have Maclin out there, but Damaris has done a great job in practice, understanding the scheme and what we’re trying to get done, so hopefully he can step in and fill the void,” said Michael Vick.

The undrafted free agent out of Tulsa has seen some action over the Eagles’ first two regular-season games, catching two balls for 23 yards while serving as the team’s punt returner. He is now in a much bigger role.

“I’m not nervous, I’m really excited,” said the 5-8 Johnson. “I always thought I could play in this league, it’s just something I have to go out and prove now. I have the reps to do it, now I just have to go out and make plays.”

With Dunlap sidelined because of a hamstring strain, Demetress Bell will get his first start at left tackle for the Eagles.

“He’ll be fine,” said Dunlap. “He’s been working hard all week, came in last week and did a good job. I think we’ll be fine.”

Jeremy Maclin Returns To Practice

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy MaclinJeremy Maclin returned to the practice field Thursday and was listed as a limited participant after sitting Wednesday out.

The receiver was knocked out of the Ravens game with a hip pointer. He originally sustained the hip injury against the Browns in Week 1. Maclin said he was in a good deal of pain following Sunday’s game but has been making progress.

With Maclin returning, King Dunlap was the only member of the Eagles sidelined for Thursday’s practice. Dunlap is dealing with a hamstring strain and it’s considered a stretch to think he will be ready play against the Cardinals. Demetress Bell will likely get the start at left tackle in his place.

Colt Anderson (knee) did not practice Wednesday but was back as a full participant. DeSean Jackson (hamstring) was full-go as well after being limited the day before.

Demetress Bell Likely In Line For First Start

The Demetress Bell project may have been slower coming than many anticipated, but it’s in overdrive now.

Andy Reid said  that it “will be a stretch” for King Dunlap to be ready for the Cardinals. Dunlap suffered a hamstring strain against the Ravens and will not practice Wednesday. Reid indicated he could be sidelined through Friday, opening the door for Bell to likely get his first start in an Eagles uniform.

Bell was the presumed replacement for Jason Peters at left tackle when the Eagles signed him to a five-year, $34.5 million contract in free agency. Struggling with Howard Mudd‘s blocking scheme, he lost the spot in training camp to the unheralded Dunlap and wasn’t even active in Week 1 against the Browns.

He jumped over rookie Dennis Kelly and was active in Week 2, and saw his first action as an Eagle when Dunlap went down.

“I think he’s got it,” said Todd Herremans of understanding Mudd’s system. “He just kind of got thrown out there and it was like, ‘Hey, we don’t have any other linemen. You’ve got to go out there and play tackle.’ It’s better than being able to fuss over something that didn’t go quite right or just linger on any negativity. We had a game to win, so he didn’t really have any chance to think about what happened or what was going to happen. Live games are the best way you can learn a position.”

Herremans has tried to help Bell along.

“He’ll ask some things here and there, and I don’t want to overload him or seem overbearing where I’m trying to tell him exactly how to play football, because he’s been in the league and knows how to play football, or else he wouldn’t be here,” said Herremans. “But there’s little nuances I try to feed him that are probably easier to understand from me than they are from Howard.”

According to the coaches, Bell graded out pretty well. He was given help about half of the time in his 20 snaps Sunday by Sheil’s count. There was some talk that the former Bill just relied on his old blocking technique. Reid disputed that.

“He did what he’s been taught to do, and he did a good job with that,” said Reid. “I feel like the last two, three weeks he’s really gotten a pretty good grasp of things. He looks like he feels more comfortable, and that’s an important part of it. This gives him an opportunity to get in and possibly play. We’ll see how it all works with King, and if he gets in I have full trust that he will do a great job. He’s going to take the practice snaps today, probably tomorrow and a pretty good chance on Friday, so we’ll see how it all works.”

Maclin update

Jeremy Maclin will not practice Wednesday as he continues to deal with a hip pointer injury.

“Jeremy actually had a good day yesterday and got treatment today; we’ll just see,” said Reid. “He is tender but he is improving.”

Maclin originally sustained his hip injury against the Browns, and was knocked out in the third quarter against the Ravens when he received another blow to the area.

Reid said that he doesn’t believe that there is risk of greater injury if Maclin plays.

The Eagles recently worked out wide receivers  Brian Robiskie and DeMarco Sampson, per Adam Caplan, but neither were signed.

OL Review: How Did Bell And Reynolds Hold Up?

Here’s a review of how the Eagles offensive linemen performed after re-watching Sunday’s game against the Ravens.

King Dunlap – He suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter, trying to get to Ray Lewis on a LeSean McCoy run to the left side. Overall, the Eagles were much better in pass protection than Week 1. The only issue I saw for Dunlap was when he couldn’t hold his block against Courtney Upshaw, who got past him and chased Michael Vick out of the pocket on his first interception. Run-blocking has never been Dunlap’s strength. He got called for holding Haloti Ngata on a McCoy run in the first. And Dunlap couldn’t hold his block on a McCoy run that was stopped for no gain. On the flip side, he had a decent block on Damaris Johnson’s 6-yard run in the first.

Evan Mathis – He got called for two penalties – a holding and a false start – but other than that, Mathis played a good game. He had some really good moments in the run game, specifically. Mathis did a nice job of getting to Lewis on Johnson’s 6-yard run in the first. He blocked the linebacker on McCoy’s touchdown run in the first. He did a good job on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second and again on an 11-yard run in the fourth. Mathis also threw the key block on the linebacker on Vick’s game-winning touchdown. In protection, he held up well. Mathis did a nice job one-on-one against Ngata on Vick’s 18-yard completion to DeSean Jackson in the second. The holding penalty I mentioned occurred when a rusher got past him and McCoy in the fourth.

Jason Kelce – He suffered the knee injury on a McCoy run where Ravens safety Ed Reed dove for the running back, but hit Kelce low instead. Kelce was really playing a good game up to that point. I didn’t notice any breakdowns in protection. And he’s been excellent in the run game. Kelce made a good block on Johnson’s 6-yard run in the first. And again on McCoy’s 4th-and-1 carry. He also did a good job on McCoy’s touchdown run and his 7-yard run in the second. We’ll find out if he’s out four-to-six weeks or the entire season. But this line is definitely going to miss Kelce.

Danny Watkins – He’s still having too many issues in pass protection. Ngata went right around Watkins and delivered a blow to Vick’s chest/rib area on a 19-yard completion to Brent Celek in the first. Ngata probably could have been flagged for a penalty on the play. Watkins had trouble with Albert McLellan in the second as Vick was forced to leave the pocket and run for 5 yards. Ngata went right around him and crushed Vick from his blind side in the third. And Ngata beat him again later on a play where   Pernell McPhee crushed Vick. Watkins had some good moments too. He made a decent block on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. And he did a good job in pass protection on Jackson’s 49-yard bomb in the third. But he just needs to get better in pass protection, especially given the team’s uncertain center situation.

Todd Herremans – After a disappointing Week 1 performance, Herremans was better against the Ravens. The Eagles should be running to his side a lot going forward. McCoy ran behind Herremans on the 4th-and-1 conversion in the first. Herremans made a really good block on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the second. And again on McCoy’s 5-yard run. He blocked the defensive end and then Lewis on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the fourth. In protection, Herremans had a few issues, but was fine overall. There was confusion all around on the Bernard Pollard sack in the first. Herremans and Watkins let Upshaw go right past them. Herremans got beat by Upshaw on the fourth-quarter play where Mathis was called for holding. And on the next play, he got beat by McPhee, who crushed Vick as he threw.

Demetress Bell – I was surprised when inactives were announced and the Eagles decided that he would dress as the swing tackle in place of rookie Dennis Kelly. Clearly, the coaches are seeing some progress from Bell. He entered the game in the third quarter and held up well. In the preseason, Bell looked completely lost. That was not the case here. By my count, Bell was on the field for 20 pass plays. And on 11 occasions, he was asked to block a Ravens defender one-on-one. On the other nine plays, the Eagles wisely gave him help – either in the form of another lineman, a tight end or a running back. Bell did a really nice job in protection on the 49-yard completion to Jackson. The question is: Has something clicked with Bell and Howard Mudd’s techniques? Or did he just block the way he used to with the vertical steps in Buffalo, trying to do whatever he could to keep Vick clean? From my perspective, there was definitely a little bit of that, which seems fine, given the circumstances. Bell was not perfect, but he held up much better than expected. He got turned around on a stunt on the first play of the final drive, but Vick stepped up and hit Jackson for a 14-yard gain. In the run game, he didn’t give the Eagles much. Bell got beat inside and was called for holding on a McCoy run that was stopped at the line of scrimmage. And he got blown up by Upshaw on a McCoy run to the left that lost 4 yards. If Dunlap can’t go Sunday, Bell will get his first start of the season.

Dallas Reynolds – Not sure if I tempered my expectations for Reynolds or if he really played well, but I was impressed with the way he came in and performed. I didn’t notice any missed blocks that resulted in a sack or a hit on Vick. On the 13-yard third-down completion to Johnson, he started out with Watkins, double-teaming Ngata, recognized a delayed blitzer and switched to help Mathis. Really nice job for someone seeing his first NFL action. In the third, Reynolds had some trouble with nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu, but overall, he might have been the Eagles’ unsung hero Sunday. We’ll see if they make a roster move or give him a shot with Kelce out.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

Eagles OL Game Review: Vick Takes 14 Hits

Philadelphia Eagles offensive line coach Howard MuddMichael Vick dropped back to pass 59 times Sunday against the Browns, and on 14 of those occasions, or about 24 percent of the time, he took a hit.

Who was to blame on those plays?

Below is a breakdown of the 14 hits, followed by a player-by-player review of the offensive line after having re-watched the game.

Hit 1: Todd Herremans got beat by Juqua Parker around the edge. Parker reached around and dragged Vick to the ground. A flag could have been thrown since he made contact with Vick’s helmet. The Browns only rushed four on the play.

Hit 2: The Browns blitzed, sending six defenders at Vick. Herremans was initially blocking defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin, but left to help running back Bryce Brown, who was in protection. Rubin and linebacker Craig Robertson shoved Vick to the ground.

Hit 3: This was a designed bootleg. Vick rolled to his left and couldn’t find a receiver. Linebacker L.J. Fort wasn’t fooled and tackled him out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage for a sack.

Hit 4: Former Eagle Dimitri Patterson came unblocked from the slot and hit Vick on his blind side as he let go of the football. The Browns sent five defenders on the play, but no one accounted for Patterson.

Hit 5: It looked like Jason Kelce was handing Rubin off to Danny Watkins, but Watkins left to help Brent Celek, who was blocking Jabaal Sheard. Rubin ran free up the middle and hit Vick as he completed a pass to DeSean Jackson. The Browns sent five defenders at Vick, but the Eagles had seven players (both tight ends) in to block. A clear breakdown in protection.

Hit 6: Evan Mathis got beat by defensive tackle Billy Winn, who grabbed a hold of Vick’s leg in the pocket. Instead of going down, Vick launched a dangerous throw that got just out of bounds near the 3-yard-line in Jeremy Maclin’s vicinity. By the time he got rid of the ball, two more defenders arrived to crush him. It was a four-man rush.

Hit 7: Vick took off and ran, which was a fine decision. He picked up 11 yards, but dove head-first, so Robertson was able to land on his lower back. Vick actually dove head-first twice on runs.

Hit 8: The Browns sent a linebacker and a safety off the left side, dropping the right defensive end into coverage. They only rushed five, and the Eagles had six blockers, but one defensive back came untouched. Vick spun away at first and looked for Celek on a tight end screen, but rushed his throw incomplete and was shoved to the ground. Tough to tell whether this one was on the quarterback or the line.

Hit 9: Initially, the Browns only rushed four. Emmanuel Stephens got past Celek and Herremans. King Dunlap had some trouble with Frostee Rucker on the other side. Safety T.J. Ward hung around the line of scrimmage, presumably waiting for Celek to release. When he saw Vick was trying to spin out of trouble, he attacked and sacked him.

Hit 10: The Eagles were trying to set up a screen, but safety Eric Hagg came unblocked on Vick’s front side and threw off the timing, hitting him as he threw incomplete.

Hit 11: Another zone blitz. The Browns sent a linebacker and the slot corner from Vick’s front side and dropped the left defensive end into coverage. Five rushers in all, but an overload to the offense’s left side. Ward came unblocked and drilled Vick as he let go of the football, incomplete to Celek.

Hit 12: The Browns rushed four. Rubin beat Watkins, who may have thought he was getting help from Kelce. Rubin flung Vick to the ground after he released the ball and earned a personal foul penalty.

Hit 13: Dunlap and Herremans both got beat off the edge. Vick decided to run, and since it was 3rd-and-10 with just over three minutes left and the Eagles down six, he wasn’t going to slide. He got hit by three Browns defenders, fumbled and nearly turned it over for a fifth time, before recovering the football.

Hit 14: On the final drive, Rubin started out at left defensive tackle, but looped outside. Herremans was probably supposed to pick him up, although LeSean McCoy could have helped too. Rubin came free and took Vick down as he threw incomplete to Maclin. It was just a four-man rush.

The player-by-player breakdown of the offensive line:

King Dunlap – He got the start at left tackle and had issues, although anyone pinning the protection problems all on Dunlap are off-base. He is no more at fault than the other four. Dunlap had trouble with Rucker off the edge on the first play from scrimmage and was called for holding in the quarter. He got beat by Stephens in the first, forcing Vick out of the pocket on the first interception. Later, it looked like he thought the play was over and he let up against Stephens, who got a hit on Vick. Both he and Herremans got beat on the same play on the final drive, forcing Vick to run. Dunlap did a poor job on a third-quarter McCoy run that lost 5 yards. It wasn’t all bad though. He was good in protection on Vick’s 28-yard completion to Celek in the third. He made a nice block on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the fourth. Dunlap did a good job in protection on Vick’s 11-yard completion to Celek. And again on the 46-yard completion to Maclin. Not a great game, but don’t know what the team’s other options are right now.

Evan Mathis – He was called for two penalties – holding and a false start – and also had a couple issues in protection. As I mentioned above, Mathis got beat by Winn on third down in the first. It would have been a sack, but Vick managed to get rid of the ball even though Winn had a hold of his leg. In the second half, Stephens looped in from right defensive end, and Mathis and Kelce were slow to pick him up as he got pressure up the middle. Excellent job by Mathis in protection on the 46-yard completion to Maclin. He also made some nice blocks at the second level in the run game. One on D’Qwell Jackson, allowing McCoy to pick up 7 yards on the final drive. And an earlier one on Jackson during a 9-yard McCoy run.

Jason Kelce – It was a mixed bag for Kelce. Hopefully, I can get his thoughts on the pre-snap phase when the Eagles return to practice Wednesday. Kelce had a bad snap in the second, but the fumble was recovered by McCoy. It looked like there was confusion between him and Watkins in the first. Kelce let Rubin go, but Watkins kicked outside to help Celek. Vick completed a 35-yard pass to DeSean Jackson, but took a big hit. Kelce was called for holding on McCoy’s 17-yard run in the second. Rubin looped inside and shoved him back into Vick, deflecting a pass in the third. And Kelce got pushed back on a McCoy run that lost 5 yards in the third. But overall, he was excellent as a run blocker. Kelce got to the second level and blocked D’Qwell Jackson on McCoy’s 22-yard run in the second. He did a good job on McCoy’s 6-yard run in the third. He got to the linebacker and helped spring McCoy for a 15-yard run in the fourth. He took care of D’Qwell Jackson on McCoy’s 7-yard run in the fourth. He blocked Jabaal Sheard on McCoy’s 13-yard run. And he held off Winn, creating a running lane for McCoy on his 7-yard run during the final drive. Kelce was a major part of the Eagles’ success in the run game.

Danny Watkins – Like everyone else, Watkins had issues in protection (mostly against Rubin), but made some nice blocks in the run game. He had trouble with Rubin in the first, as Vick was forced to leave the pocket and throw the ball away. He got beat by Rubin, who pressured Vick and helped force an incompletion on third down in the third quarter. Rubin went right around him in the third on another third down. Watkins got beat and was called for holding on a Vick third-quarter interception. He got beat on the final drive, but Rubin was called for roughing the passer. The results in the run game were better. Good block by Watkins on McCoy’s 9-yard run in the first. He got just enough of D’Qwell Jackson on the screen to McCoy that picked up 7 in the second. And he did an outstanding job on Rubin on McCoy’s 22-yard run in the second.

Todd Herremans – Not up to the standards we’ve come to expect from Herremans in protection, although he looked good on runs to the right side. Herremans had some trouble with Rubin, who looped outside and forced Vick to step up and throw incomplete on a third down in the second. He got beat around the edge by Parker, who dragged Vick down in the first. On the final drive, Herremans had some trouble with Parker, who pressured Vick as he completed an 8-yard pass. Parker got past him and hit Vick on the final drive as he completed a pass to Maclin. Rubin looped outside and got between Herremans and McCoy to hit Vick on the final drive. In the run game, Herremans made a good block on McCoy’s 9-yard gain in the first. He made a nice block on McCoy’s 22-yard run in the second. And again on McCoy’s 15-yard run in the fourth. My guess is you’re going to see a lot of runs to the right this season with no Jason Peters on the other side.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

 

Eagles Predictions Sure To Go Wrong

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy MaclinWith the opener just two days away, it’s time for some predictions that we’ll likely look back and laugh at a few months from now.

We came up with 10 questions that focus on the Eagles’ 2012 season. Here’s how we see things playing out.

When all is said and done, what will Michael Vick’s 2012 season look like, and will he return in 2013?

Tim McManus: I think the familiarity with the system and the decrease in responsibility at the line of scrimmage should lower the turnover number, and Vick will at times look like one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. He will also find old habits hard to break, and will undoubtedly miss some time because of injury. Ultimately, he’ll do enough to be back in 2013.

Sheil Kapadia: Vick has said he didn’t really comprehend what he was doing as a quarterback until 2011. I believe him. The part we sometimes forget is that when he drops back, has time and identifies an open receiver, Vick is a very accurate passer. The key will be less hits in the pocket (where his last six injuries have occurred). Vick is poised to continue to grow as a quarterback and will return in 2013.

What is an offensive storyline that will emerge during the season?

TM: When Vick does go down, Nick Foles will step up. He will win a game or two, and there will be a faction of the fan base that will want Andy Reid to ride with the rookie, even when Vick returns to health. And they will be denied.

SK: McCoy will struggle at times. He led all offensive players with 50 broken tackles in 2011. In other words, he had to do a lot on his own. Now McCoy’s without Jason Peters, and I’ve seen little evidence that King Dunlap can be a factor in the running game. McCoy’s going to have to do even more on his own this season.

What is a defensive storyline that will emerge during the season?

TM: Juan Castillo will find himself on shaky ground once again, whether it’s for the perceived misuse of Nnamdi Asomugha or just because the defense is under-performing. The name Todd Bowles will be a regular part of Philadelphia’s lexicon.

SK: Trent Cole will challenge for the sack title. Jim Washburn said early in camp that Cole didn’t know what he was doing last year, and he still had 11 sacks in 14 games. With a new contract in hand and another year in Washburn’s system, Cole is going to have a monster year.

Which Eagles rookie will have the biggest impact?

TM: A lot to choose from this year, but it’s hard to move away from Mychal Kendricks. Originality be damned. He and Fletcher Cox will both have quality campaigns, but Kendricks’ impact will be the most noticeable because of the nature of the position.

SK: I’m with T-Mac here. Kendricks will be the best linebacker this franchise has seen in years. But a sleeper pick is Brandon Boykin. He’s got the athleticism to be one of the better slot corners in the league, and the key is he played inside in college, so the learning process won’t overwhelm him. Working under Bowles, expect big things from Boykin.

LeSean McCoy’s over/under for rushing yards is 1,100. What do you got?

TM: I’ll take the over. He’ll have some carries taken away from him this season by Bryce Brown, Dion Lewis and possibly Chris Polk (in that order). But think of it this way: He had 66 fewer carries in 2010 than he did last season, and still finished with 1,080 yards. I see around 1,200 yards for McCoy this season.

SK: Despite the potential struggles I mentioned above, I still think McCoy goes over 1,100. Last year, nine running backs had 1,100 yards or more, and I certainly think he’s a top-nine tailback, especially considering McCoy is only 24 and has a 4.8 YPC average.

DeSean Jackson’s over/under for receiving yards is 1000.5. What do you got?

TM: That’s a bad line. Jackson should cruise past 1,000. He was a wreck last year and still had 961 yards. I think they’ll be committed to getting the ball in Jackson’s hands more this season, and he’ll end with career highs in receptions and yards.

SK: I’m with McManus here. Jackson had four drops on passes that traveled 20+ yards downfield last season (per PFF). If he caught one or two of those (assuming  YAC), he’d have been well over 1,000. Jackson’s never missed more than one game in a season due to injury (It’s true! Look it up!). Look for him to be in the neighborhood of 65 catches and 1,100 yards.

Jeremy Maclin’s over/under is at 950.5. What do you got?

TM: Over. Interesting that Maclin has never had a 1,000-yard season in three years with the Eagles. Think he gets his first one. From what I could tell, he was poised for a breakout year in 2011 before the health scare set him on a different track. Now that he’s healthy, the 24-year old should see a jump in production. This will be the first Eagles wide receiver tandem with 1,000-yard campaigns in the same season.

SK: Hate to keep going the same way, but I’ve got the over too. Maclin set a career high, averaging 66.1 yards per game last season. Carried over a 16-game season, and that turns into 1,057.6 yards. Maclin is going to have his best season as a pro. With his contract up after 2013, don’t be surprised if an extension is on Howie Roseman’s to-do list.

The Eagles will go to the Super Bowl if…

TM: Vick plays like a top-5 quarterback. We can all close our eyes and pretend that the conference isn’t inhabited by Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Eli Manning, or that playoff success isn’t largely dictated by clutch, transcendent quarterback play, but then we would be fooling ourselves. Vick (or Foles, if he’s called on) has to match the excellence that is guaranteed to come from a few of his NFC peers.

SK: Everything clicks with the quarterback. Vick has the coaching, and he has the weapons. By all accounts, he’s been the hardest-working guy in the building all offseason. Now we find out if that’s enough. Comparing Vick to other quarterbacks is pointless. His skill set is truly unique, and his path will never be replicated. Since he joined the Eagles, Vick has made it clear that he is making up for lost time. The coaches believe in him, and his teammates follow him. If it’s ever going to all come together for Vick, this is the year.

Andy Reid will get fired after the season if…

TM: The Eagles do not win a playoff game. Jeffrey Lurie is looking for “substantial improvement.” Does 9-7 or 10-6 and an early postseason exit qualify? Likely not.

SK: The Eagles don’t make the playoffs. A postseason berth with a young roster can be labeled as a step in the right direction. In that case, everybody’s back for another try in 2013. Failing to make the playoffs two years in a row means Lurie moves on.

What’s your prediction for the season?

TM: 10-6. I think this team is good enough to win the division, but will be knocked out in the divisional round.

SK: I’ve got the same projection as McManus. I think we’ve been spending too much time together. To project a better finish, you have to be confident that the offense can beat the likes of Rodgers, Brees and Manning in a shootout. Or you believe Castillo can gameplan to shut those guys down. I’m not ready to project either right now.

Cheat Sheet: Eagles Offense Vs. Browns Defense

Each week, I’ll post a pair of cheat sheets to get you ready for the Eagles’ upcoming opponent. The first part will focus on the Eagles’ offense against the opponent’s defense, and vice versa for the second installment.

1. The Eagles are still a big-play offense, but picking up chunks of yardage could be difficult against the Browns. According to stats kept by the league, Michael Vick’s average pass attempt traveled 9.17 yards last season, seventh-highest in the NFL. When the Birds are at their best, Vick is hitting DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin downfield.

But that doesn’t exactly play into the Browns’ weakness. Cleveland allowed just 43 pass plays of 20+ yards last season. Only the Steelers allowed fewer. And opponents averaged just 6.7 yards per attempt against the Browns in 2011, the fifth-best mark of any defense.

2. The Browns finished 24th and 25th, respectively, in covering tight ends and running backs last season, per Football Outsiders. Brent Celek, Clay Harbor and LeSean McCoy should all be factors in the passing game. Riley Cooper won’t play, and Damaris Johnson will be the Eagles’ fourth wide receiver. Vick may have to settle for a more methodical approach in the opener.

3. You’re familiar with some of the Browns’ personnel. Sheldon Brown started 16 games last year and will hold down the right cornerback position. There was talk of moving the 33-year-old to safety this offseason, but that has not happened. Former Eagle Dimitri Patterson played well as the Browns’ nickel corner in 2011, signing a three-year, $16M deal with $6M guaranteed in the offseason. He suffered an ankle injury in the Browns’ first preseason game, but practiced fully on Thursday.

4. Marty Mornhinweg called Cleveland’s No. 1 corner, Joe Haden, “one of the very best corners in the league.” Haden faces a four-game suspension for testing positive for Adderall, but it looks like that won’t kick in this week. A first-round pick in 2010, Haden was targeted 67 times as a rookie (according to Football Outsiders) and came away with six interceptions. Teams didn’t shy away from throwing at him last year, though, targeting Haden 80 times, compared to 72 for Brown. As a team, Cleveland had just nine interceptions last season, tied for third-fewest in the league.

5. The Browns have some talented players on the defensive line, but pressuring opposing quarterbacks was not a strength in 2011, as they finished with just 32 sacks (tied for 23rd). The Eagles get a bit of a break in that Cleveland’s best pass-rusher, Jabaal Sheard, lines up at left defensive end and will go against Todd Herremans instead of King Dunlap. Sheard had 8.5 sacks as a rookie, third-most among first-year players, behind only San Francisco’s Aldon Smith and Denver’s Von Miller.

6. Dunlap will match up against veteran Frostee Rucker, who went to the Browns from the Bengals in the offseason. Rucker had a career-high four sacks a year ago. It’ll be interesting to see how much the Eagles use Celek to help Dunlap on the left side. In the first five games last year, Celek was used as a blocker on 29.9 percent of the Eagles’ pass plays, per Pro Football Focus. But in the final 11 games, when he averaged 67.1 yards receiving, Celek was used as a blocker just 23 percent of the time.

7. The other player to watch on the Browns’ defensive line is tackle Ahtyba Rubin. Rubin (6-2, 330) had five sacks in 2011 and is very active. The interior of the Eagles’ line should be ready for stunts, loops and blitzes. Cleveland sent extra pressure about 36.4 percent of the time last season, per Football Outsiders. Most commonly, it was just one extra rusher (27.4 percent of the time). The Eagles won’t have to face defensive tackle Phil Taylor, who started 16 games last season, but suffered a chest injury and is on PUP. And don’t forget that Cleveland signed Juqua Parker in the offseason.

8. The Browns had the third-best red-zone defense in the NFL last year, limiting opponents to a touchdown rate of just 40.82 percent. The Eagles’ offense was 14th, scoring TDs 51.52 percent of the time. One player to keep an eye on is Harbor. He had a strong summer and could be used in the red zone more this season. Harbor had two touchdowns in the preseason.

9. Opponents averaged 4.4 yards per carry against the Browns in 2011, tying them for 19th in the league with the Eagles. But Cleveland allowed 16 runs of 20+ yards, fourth-most in the NFL. The Browns have one of the better middle linebackers in the league in D’Qwell Jackson. He finished second with 158 tackles last season, behind only Washington’s London Fletcher. Cleveland will use him in a variety of ways, including as a blitzer. Jackson went after the quarterback 136 times last year, per Pro Football Focus, and had a career-high 3.5 sacks. The Browns are banged-up at the other linebacker spots. Fourth-round pick James Michael-Johnson did not practice Thursday because of a rib/oblique injury. And former Eagle Chris Gocong is out for the year with an Achilles injury.

10. According to Football Outsiders, the Browns were one of the best tackling teams in the league last season. The numbers show that Cleveland missed a tackle on just 4.2 percent of its defensive plays, tied for third-lowest in the league, behind only the Giants and 49ers. As a point of reference, the Eagles missed tackles on 8.1 percent of their defensive plays, second-highest.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

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