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Fan-Demonium: The Ride Won't Be Boring

Posted Jun 14, 2015

The Eagles wrapped up their Organized Team Activities and the three-day mandatory mini-camp this week will end the on-field work for the spring. I know this will sound hard to believe, but every player looked great. DeMarco Murray has yet to be tackled. If Jordan Matthews isn't the best young receiver in football, then Nelson Agholor is. Mychal Kendricks looks good enough to lead the league in tackles, unless Kiko Alonso does it. I don't see how this team loses a game in the next decade, let alone this season. Watch out world!

The excitement of spring football leads to a bit of hyperbole. Some players look great in the spring and summer, without it ever translating to game action. Jerry Rice could have made the Hall of Fame based on the way he practiced and played. Based on just spring football, guys like Na Brown, Lorenzo Booker and Sean Considine might have joined him. You don't want to make too much of what you see this time of the year, but it is worth talking about some of the observations. Nothing is definitive, of course, but we are able to get a feel for certain players and situations.

The headliner is Sam Bradford, the projected starting quarterback. New players always get extra attention because people want to learn about them. Bradford is working his way back from an ACL injury and that only serves to heighten interest in him. There wasn't too much to see in the first week. Bradford was limited to throwing on the side and some 7-on-7 work. His workload increased this past week.

As far as health, Bradford is limited as he continues to rehab. Chip Kelly says that Bradford is on schedule. There is no need for concern now. Training Camp is still six weeks away. Bradford and the Eagles are trying to be smart about this. There is no need to rush the rehab. The goal is for Bradford to be ready for August. He's good enough now to get out on the field and participate in some activities, but the idea here is to be cautious and make sure the knee heals properly.

While Bradford hasn't done a lot, his ability is clear. He has the strongest arm of any of the quarterbacks. He has made some terrific throws. His teammates, coaches and the media have been impressed by what they have seen so far.

With Bradford limited, the other quarterbacks have gotten more practice reps. Mark Sanchez looks worlds different than he did a year ago. He is healthy this year and knows the offense. Sanchez looks comfortable and is doing everything he can to push Bradford for the starting job. Last year Sanchez was busy trying to learn the offense. This spring, he's able to work on improving his game. Sanchez has studied his 2014 performance and knows there are areas he must work on. I hope one of the things he focuses on is improving his downfield throws. I don't mean just bombs, but also corner routes and other passes in the 15- to 25-yard range.

Matt Barkley seems to be having the best spring of his young career. He is working a lot with the second team and that might be helping to bring out the best in him. Tim Tebow is back in football after being gone for two seasons. His mechanics are improved, but he needs to get better to seriously push Barkley for the third spot. Tebow is rusty and new to the offense so he might look a lot better in August. Sanchez went through that same scenario last year. He struggled in May/June and then looked very different in August.

First-round pick Nelson Agholor has looked the part of a good young player so far. He flashes athletic ability and positional ability every day. He shows the speed that you want in a starting receiver and is catching everything thrown his way. He and Jordan Matthews seem to be pushing each other, while Agholor also learns from his elder. You can call a second-year receiver who is 22 years old someone's elder, right? Joking aside, veteran Miles Austin has been a good influence on both young players while doing everything he can to impress the coaches and win a roster spot.

The offensive line is an area of intense interest with starting guards Todd Herremans and Evan Mathis both gone. No one has any questions about Jason Peters, Lane Johnson or Jason Kelce, but the guard spots are wide open. Allen Barbre looks to be the favorite at left guard. Matt Tobin, Andrew Gardner and Dennis Kelly are competing for the right guard spot. Since there is no contact in these practices, the coaches are making very limited evaluations. They focus on assignments and technique, while also checking out the movement skills of the blockers. I think Jeff Stoutland and Chip Kelly are keeping an open mind with the line. They will give the jobs to the two players who play the best.

Lawlor

Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.

The player on defense who might be getting the most attention is Kiko Alonso. He is the kind of tall, athletic linebacker Kelly loves in the middle of his defense. Alonso is a playmaker with big-time potential. Like Bradford, part of the attention coming Alonso's way is to check out his knee. It has been more than a year since Alonso tore his ACL and he looks to be all the way back or pretty darn close. Alonso has impressed people with his athleticism and range.

More than a few eyes are on the Eagles’ revamped secondary. Byron Maxwell is off to a good start in his Eagles career. He is talented, but also practices with a lot of energy and emotion. That might be a good thing for a secondary that is trying to come together. Nolan Carroll is the other starter for now. Many people wonder why he didn't get more of a shot last year. Carroll got hurt in the summer and that set him back. Carroll is in great shape and is working hard to be a starter this time around. Kelly has talked about rookies Eric Rowe and JaCorey Shepherd catching his eye. This secondary might lack experience, but they seem much more talented than last year's group.

Walter Thurmond was signed to help with the cornerback situation, but has now moved to safety. Kelly says he is making more plays on the ball than anyone else in practice. That is exactly what you want to hear with a guy like Thurmond. He's not an impact hitter or great tackler. You need him to cover well and make plays in the passing game. It is obviously very early in the process, but Thurmond sounds like a player who has embraced his position change and might end up starting there.

Mini-camp is coming up. In August, it will be Training Camp and then the preseason. Actual football isn't all that far away. There is plenty of reason for optimism with the Eagles. If this team can stay healthy, 2015 could be a fun season. With Chip Kelly running the show and this collection of players, I know it won't be boring.

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