Eagles Wake-Up Call: OTAs Preview



The Eagles begin OTAs today. This morning’s session starts at 10:50 and is fully open to the media. Our first chance, then, to check out the 2016 squad led by first-year head coach Doug Pederson.

Here’s the full schedule (with the four media access days in bold):
— May 17, 18, 19
— May 24, 25, 26
–May 31, June 1, June 2, June

As a reminder, contact is not permitted  but teams are allowed to conduct 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Here’s what we’re looking for as practices get underway:

Bradford’s behavior

Sam Bradford is scheduled to address reporters in the auditorium this afternoon. It will be his first public comments since demanding a trade following the Eagles’ move up to No. 2 to select Carson Wentz. How Bradford conducts himself from this point forward will impact the health of the locker room, for better or worse. Will he be fully engaged, or noticeably distant? Will the presence of Wentz motivate him or knock him off-kilter? Will he do his part to form a decent working relationship with the rookie, or ice him out? We get our first exposure to the Bradford/Wentz dynamic this week.

Pederson’s command

We got to see Pederson in his element on Friday as rookie minicamp opened. He spent most of his time  instructing Wentz and Everett Golson and seemed perfectly at home in the setting. The control that he projected has been missing at times during his interactions with the media, which is somewhat understandable given his lack of experience being the front man. But a front man he is now, and starting today there will be 90 men looking to him for direction. Pederson is scheduled to speak at 12:45, moments after leading his first real practice as Eagles head coach.

Agholor’s development

It’s not easy to evaluate linemen in this setting. The same is true for just about every non-skill position, actually. But receiver is one area where we can get a little taste for the development of a player. All eyes will be on Nelson Agholor, who posted an underwhelming 23 catches for 283 yards as a rookie. It’s tough to draw any meaningful conclusions off that year given that he played much of it with a high ankle sprain. Opinions vary on just what type of prospect he is at this point, but just about everyone agrees that he is one of the major x-factors on this team. If he takes a big step forward, this receiving corps suddenly looks pretty legit.

The d-backs

The corners running opposite Agholor and company are certainly worth keeping an eye on as well. With Byron Maxwell now in Miami, guys like Eric Rowe, Nolan Carroll and Leodis McKelvin will be vying for the starting jobs on the outside. Not expecting Carroll to be a full participant as he continues to recover from his injury, meaning there’s opportunity for extra reps for some of the other candidates.

Carson Wentz

Of course. The plan is to keep Wentz on the sideline in 2016, so these next few months might be the most exposure we get to him for some time. The presence of Wentz adds a whole new level of intrigue to these proceedings. His play will be unnecessarily dissected, I’m sure, and we should probably brace for a wave of momentum trying to push Wentz into the starting role based off how he looks in shorts. The Eagles have the long game in mind here, though, and will be looking for gradual signs of development out of their QB. Some feel that he faces a bigger learning curve given that he is jumping from 1-AA to the NFL. Others insist that he will be further along than many since he ran a pro-style offense at North Dakota State. We’ll find out who is right soon enough.


Matt Tobin inked a new two-year deal with the Eagles.

“You might be the next Freak.” A look at seventh-round pick Alex McAlister’s potential.

Josh examines how the rookies fit into the Eagles’ roster in yesterday’s wake-up call.


Marcus Hayes thinks Sam Bradford’s holdout was motivated by greed, not cowardice.

Bradford wasn’t scared of outplaying Carson Wentz after the Eagles traded up from No. 8 to No. 2 in the draft. He just saw a chance to cash in more quickly and more surely in Denver than in Philadelphia.

The narrative of Bradford as a yellow-belly never made sense, really. Bradford spent the last seven weeks of the 2015 season getting his teeth kicked, all the while playing as well as he had in any of his previous six NFL seasons. He fought back from two knee surgeries and an ankle injury while in St. Louis. He proved toughness. Tough guys usually embrace competition, and tough guys usually are brave. 

No, Bradford didn’t fear competing with Wentz. He wanted to compete with the whole league. 

Nick Fierro of Morning Call doesn’t expect much from the Eagles’ rookie crop this year.

Of all the rookies on the 90-man roster at the moment, Wendell Smallwood has the best chance to actually earn a starting role, because the top back on the depth chart is Ryan Mathews, who has only played every game on the schedule once in his six-year career and has missed 13 games over the past two seasons.

Beyond Smallwood, the Eagles brought in TCU tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Auburn safety Blake Countess, LSU safety Jalen Mills, Florida defensive end Alex McCalister and Oregon linebacker Joe Walker to fill out the draft.

Although Oregon’s academic year isn’t over, Walker won’t miss any time because he already graduated.

But the best he’s going to be able to do, barring another injury to middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, is earn a backup role behind Hicks to start the season. And the same can be said of all the other draftees and rookie free agents.

Because the Eagles addressed all their projected starting openings in free agency with the additions of safety Rodney McLeod, guard Brandon Brooks, cornerback Leodis McKelvin, offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, linebacker Nigel Bradham and wide receivers Rueben Randle and Chris Givens, there won’t be one rookie who will open training camp at the top of the depth chart.


OTAs begin. We’ll have you covered.