Eagles Wake Up Call: On the Secondary Picture
Chip Kelly conceded that the Eagles have only half of their secondary picture filled in at the moment, with the other two spots currently in pencil.
“I think our depth is better than it’s ever been in the three years,” said the head coach on Thursday. “Now we just have to figure out who exactly those guys are that will complement the two guys that are our starters [in] Malcolm [Jenkins] and Byron [Maxwell] right now. The other guys are really competing.”
We will get our second peek at the new-look defensive backfield this afternoon. The first time around, Nolan Carroll was running with the ones at corner opposite Maxwell and Chris Maragos was paired with Jenkins at safety. Chances are, that will not be the foursome when the Eagles open up the regular season Monday, September 14 in Atlanta.
Carroll could stick. He’s starting in the pole position after catching Kelly’s eye in the early going. And it’s certainly conceivable that he fends off the young talent — like second-round pick Eric Rowe — as they transition to the pro game.
“Nolan Carroll has done an unbelievable job in the offseason. He’s a guy that stands out in terms of what he’s done in the weight room and some of those other things,” said Kelly.
Maragos will likely be replaced before long, but by whom? Given the lack of options, Earl Wolff should have an opportunity to claim the gig, but he’s been limited so far this offseason following microfracture surgery.
“He’s been cleared by Dr. [James] Andrews. It’s just when can he get back into full go,” said Kelly. “He’ll be working on the side with our strength and conditioning coaches.”
Walter Thurmond has been moved to safety in an attempt to bolster the position. He was working with the second team along with Chris Prosinski last week. He’ll need to be a fast study. The five-year vet has no safety experience in his background (outside of practice) and didn’t know he was making the switch until about three weeks ago. Jaylen Watkins was given more of a heads up and prepared for the move to safety this offseason, but he was running with the third team when we saw him and still has much to prove. Jerome Couplin is another question mark.
There are a lot of maybes out there. Maybe one or two of the above mentioned can break away from the pack. Maybe Rowe blossoms early. Maybe E.J. Biggers (currently second-team outside corner) impresses. Maybe one of the sixth-round picks (Randall Evans, JaCorey Shepherd) busts out. Kelly needs a couple of these maybes to turn into something more concrete between now and the fall.
“I think the competition level of the whole group has kind of stepped up just because there’s a lot more there,” said Kelly, “a lot more talent at this position right now.”
Does he see the competition in the secondary staying open throughout the summer?
“Yeah,” he said. “Unless someone decides to go out and grab it right now and puts himself in that position.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
DeMarco Murray has made quite an impression on his teammates in the short time he has been an Eagle.
Sheil looks at where things currently stand with Mark Sanchez.
What They’re Saying: A roundup of various predictions for the 2015 season.
Be sure to pre-order your copy of the 2015 Eagles Almanac!
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Les Bowen of the Daily News goes in-depth on the situation concerning Sam Bradford‘s knee:
Bradford is wearing a brace, but then, he had the knee braced in last year’s third preseason game and tore the ACL again anyway. Bartolozzi noted that knee braces are most effective on hits from the side, but most ACL injuries involve twisting, and no one has figured out how to brace for that yet.
Bradford was asked Thursday about people who doubt he will make it through the season.
“[Bleep], there’s a reason for it,” he said, before asserting that all he could really control is getting himself ready. “I think things will play out.”
Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation ponders the potential of the Eagles trading for Browns safety Tashaun Gipson:
For those who don’t know, the 24-year-old Gipson is holding out for a new contract. Gipson was a restricted free agent this offseason since he went undrafted in 2012. The Browns placed a second-round tender on Gipson, which is worth about $2.356 million in 2015. That’s a small price to pay for a player who has combined for 11 interceptions in 27 games the past two seasons.
I’m not sure if the Eagles would have interest in trading for a player who is currently holding out, but Gipson should be on their radar. Not only is he young and talented but he would fill a major need for Philadelphia. The Eagles don’t have a clear starting option at safety next to Malcolm Jenkins and Gipson could fit right in. His size is decent at 5-11, 208 and he has experience playing cornerback which is something the Eagles value in their defensive backs. Philadelphia was willing to break the bank for Devin McCourty in free agency. Gipson clearly isn’t McCourty but he should be in play if the Eagles are serious about upgrading the safety position.
Yesterday’s scheduled availability was moved to this afternoon because of weather. Practice is slated to begin at 12:20 and we’ll speak to the players afterwards.