Eagles Wake-Up Call: What We’re Watching At Mini-Camp
The Eagles open a three-day mini-camp today at the NovaCare Complex.
These will be the final practice sessions of the spring. The players will then get more than a month off before the start of training camp in late July. Keeping that in mind, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on.
1. Depth chart tweaks
I know, I know. There’s no real depth chart in the spring. But we do get a sense of how some players are fitting in, and coaches still yell for the ones, twos and so on when setting up drills.
The rookies, specifically, are worth keeping an eye on. Jordan Matthews, for example, has not been running with the first team, but he’s still the favorite to win the slot job. If Matthews is showing a good grasp of the offense, perhaps he’ll start to mix in and build some chemistry with Nick Foles.
And then there’s the backup QB battle. Mark Sanchez has been getting the second-team reps, while Matt Barkley has been running with the threes. Chip Kelly was adamant last week that we shouldn’t read anything into the arrangement, but perhaps just to prove his point, he’ll bump Barkley up for a few drills.
Once camp is over, we’ll release what we think the depth chart looks like going into training camp on Birds 24/7.
2. Ed Reynolds
There will be a new face in attendance this week: fifth-round pick Ed Reynolds. The Stanford safety was prohibited from participating in OTAs because of NCAA guidelines. He was in contact with coaches and working out on his own for the last several weeks. But now he’ll finally get a chance to step onto the field.
Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen have been the first-team safeties so far, with Earl Wolff and Chris Maragos running with the twos. When Allen was sick last week, Wolff got bumped up. Chances are Reynolds will start out with the third team this week.
Jenkins has one starting spot locked down, but the other one is up for grabs. Kelly praised Reynolds’ football IQ when the Eagles drafted him, but he’ll have a lot of ground to make up if he wants to earn playing time as a rookie. That process begins this week.
3. Darren Sproles’ role
The coaching staff, and Kelly in particular, has been adamant in stating that Sproles will be an effective ball-carrier.
When the Eagles acquired Sproles from the Saints this offseason, many (including yours truly) believed that he would have more of an impact in the passing game than the run game. But so far, Sproles has been used exclusively as the No. 2 running back behind LeSean McCoy. He hasn’t practiced at all in the slot during the sessions open to the media.
Sproles is another guy Kelly has praised for his football IQ. At some point, we’re going to see him moved around a bit more. That’s when we’ll get a better idea of how he fits and how many touches he might get. Perhaps some hints will be revealed this week.
WHAT YOU MISSED
“We can do more position swapping.” Defensive coordinator Billy Davis sheds light on Marcus Smith’s role.
“We’re a team that likes having bigger receivers.” Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell talks DeSean Jackson and state of the position.
Our All-22 resource page compiles previous pieces on Kelly’s offense.
T-Mac on Zach Ertz’s role going into Year 2.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com on Matthews:
In the same vein, comparisons between Jordan Matthews and T.O. — or any top-flight wideout — are a wee bit overboard. Matthews is doing a nice job catching passes and seems like a hardworking, determined guy, but I’d be real careful about sky-high expectations for the kid in Year 1. Two AFC scouts told me Matthews struggled at the Senior Bowl against press coverage, which isn’t a big deal since he wasn’t among the first seven receivers drafted and wasn’t a first-round pick. But it should reinforce the adage that judgments begin when the pads come out, not in shorts.
Tommy Lawlor of Iggles Blitz offers his take on how Foles can improve:
Foles needs to be quicker with his reads on some plays. He needs to be more accurate downfield. He needs to make some better reads. There were some open guys that Foles never saw. No repeats of the first Dallas game. I still have nightmares about how awful Foles was that day.
There is no QB competition this year. Foles can develop chemistry with the key players on offense. He’ll get a ton of reps. Foles has a good set-up. This is a great opportunity for him. However, this is also the first time in his life he’s ever had to deal with significant expectations. I don’t anticipate that pressure affecting him in a negative way, but it certainly can happen.
We’ll have wall-to-wall coverage of this week’s mini-camp.