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Back In Camp, Questions Emerge

Posted Aug 11, 2012

It was Shakeup Saturday for the Eagles at training camp, what with the news that King Dunlap is taking first-team reps at left offensive tackle and Mike Kafka has an injury setback ...

This is training camp, folks.  The preseason. There are a lot of moving parts with this football team. And so the coaches looked at the tape of Thursday night's 24-23 win over Pittsburgh and, combined with the grades they assigned to every day of training camp practice, moved around a piece or two ...

  • Michael Vick is fine after suffering the left thumb injury on Thursday night and said on Saturday morning that he expects to practice later in the day. We'll update, of course, when we see him on the field. (note: Vick practiced on Saturday) The thumb is not a concern.
  • No. 2 quarterback Mike Kafka suffered a fracture to his left (non throwing) hand against Pittsburgh and will be limited for three weeks. This is not good news for Kafka, who is looking to get into rhythm. Kafka was not in sync on Thursday night, and he may not get a lot of preseason reps the rest of the summer to find his game. So ... the Eagles are moving rookie Nick Foles to No. 2 to accelerate his growth. Where is Trent Edwards in the equation? He's going to be the No. 3 quarterback in the New England game, it appears. More reps for Edwards, who played very well in the preseason opener. If the backup quarterback position makes you a little bit nervous, it's understood. The Eagles need to be secure there.
  • At left offensive tackle, King Dunlap is taking reps with the first team, and so there is legitimate competition with Demetress Bell. Howard Mudd isn't afraid to send messages and to move his linemen around. Frankly, the line didn't play very well in its six snaps against Pittsburgh. Mudd wants this group to be great, and it hasn't been this summer. Very good at times, but not great. So he's sending a message: There are no scholarship players. You have to earn your job.
  • The injury situation is good, thankfully. There are a few hamstring situations (wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, running back Dion Lewis) but none are too serious. Certainly, none of those hamstrings will impact players for the regular season.
  • At the same time, missing practices means that someone else has a chance to take the reps. So, at running back, Bryce Brown should have an increased role. He ripped off a 33-yard run on Thursday night and is aiming now to earn more confidence from the coaching staff and eat into Lewis' practice time and, who know, game time in the regular season.
  • The old saying is, "You can't make the club if you're in the tub." Cornerback Cliff Harris, as talented as he is, hasn't been able to get on the field with an ankle injury and that is diminishing his chances of making the team.
  • At punter, Mat McBriar remains first on the depth chart, but it is most certainly an open competition. Again, the perspective here is that Chas Henry has to outright win the job convincingly in the preseason. McBriar averaged 42.3 yards with a 39.2 net average against Pittsburgh, while Henry averaged 37.8 yards with a 33.8-yard net average. Two of Henry's punts were very well done inside the 20-yard line, and Henry held for Alex Henery on the 51-yard field goal that won the game.
  • The roster tinkering continues ... the Eagles signed defensive tackle John Gill last week and he got some time against Pittsburgh. Now he's been released, replaced by wide receiver Brian Hernandez on the roster.
  • Only four or five of them (six is probably too many) will make the 53-man roster, and the Eagles may keep one or two more on the practice squad, but the Eagles still have their most talented group, top to bottom, of receivers I've seen in a training camp. It's a really good crew, as evidenced by the plays Mardy Gilyard and Jamel Hamler made against Pittsburgh.
  • I'll be interested to see if Keenan Clayton helped his cause in the preseason opener. He saw more playing time with Jamar Chaney sidelined with an injury.
  • From this vantage point, four of the cornerback positions are fairly well in place. I see Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie starting with Joselio Hanson and Brandon Boykin sticking. I have to say that Curtis Marsh appears to have a very strong grasp on a spot, too. He's improved a great deal from last year.

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