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Getting A Feel For On-Field Eagles

Posted Aug 4, 2013

As Training Camp rounds the corner into the land of preseason games and more clarity in personnel evaluations, the Eagles have a really interesting next several days ahead ...

The high-intensity reps continue at practice -- which shifts to Military Day on Monday at Lincoln Financial Field -- and head coach Chip Kelly and his coaching staff continue to install the schemes, evaluate the personnel and put a depth chart in sand.

With the preseason opener ahead (Friday, 7:30 p.m., 6abc and Eagles Radio Network) against the Patriots at Lincoln Financial Field on the horizon, the Eagles are taking shape. And while there is no tackling in the Training Camp, there are some opinions to be formed based on the performance at the practices. In other words, the roster is coming together.

Some observations ...

  • Kelly works the running game in terms of reps in 11-on-11 drills a lot. His Oregon teams ran the football more than 60 percent of the time, but we do not know how much of that philosophy translates to the NFL. Clearly, though, the Eagles are working at it. And they should have a chance for great success running the football behind an athletic, talented and cohesive offensive line. And I will keep saying this: the Eagles are as talented at running back one through five as they have ever been in a training camp. This could be a fantastic group.

  • Brandon Boykin thinks that if Damaris Johnson was bigger, say 6 feet 3, "he would be the best receiver in the league." That's high praise, and Johnson isn't 6-3, but the point here is that Johnson is opening everybody's eyes with his performance at camp. Johnson isn't a vertical speed receiver who blows past defensive backs. He's a quick player who runs good routes and who gets into and out of his cuts fast, faster, fastest. The Eagles are obviously counting on Johnson to play an important role this season.

  • I wish I could tell you about Michael Bamiro, the undrafted rookie signed just prior to camp. He appears to me to be a developmental player who missed crucial time in the spring. Bamiro came in far behind the rest of his fellow linemen. That said, he's learning on the go and he has long arms and looks athletic. Can he make this team? The Eagles have some depth along the offensive line, but there's always room for a young, rising talent ... if Bamiro proves that he's that kind of player.

  • A lot will be determined in the preseason games, but I like what I've seen from the cornerbacks. John Lovett has his players challenging, that's for sure. Boykin has made really strong strides from 2012. I like Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher a lot. Jordan Poyer has obvious athletic skills, and the likes of Curtis Marsh, Eddie Whitley, Brandon Hughes and Trevard Lindley are creating great competition. Hughes had been sidelined with a hamstring injury, which set him back, but he returned on Sunday and made a pretty sideline interception. How many cornerbacks make this roster?

  • I think the Eagles can have a very effective screen game, if they decide to use it. Bryce Brown and LeSean McCoy are excellent receivers. McCoy is so impressive as a pass protector, something that Brown is working hard to improve.

  • Greg Salas is getting increased reps and a chance to make his move at wide receiver. He's made some plays and has created some separation and must show that he can be consistent and reliable.

  • Nothing but impressive things to say about the tight ends. This is a strong-looking group to date. Can't wait to see how Kelly uses his tight ends in the preseason games.

  • I'm waiting for defensive players like Everette Brown and Kenny Phillips and Cedric Thornton in the presason games to make a more solid opinion. There are a bunch of players on the bubble here -- without a firmed-up depth chart, isn't pretty much everyone on the bubble? -- who need to play very well in the four preseason games to win roster spots.

  • The draft pick not a lot of people talk about is defensive lineman Bennie Logan, who is competing for time up front. He's a key guy in a made-over front seven. And while the Eagles show 3-4 and some 4-3 in the practices, they're going to need Logan to step up and provide depth as a tackle in the 4-3 and a "5" technique end in the 3-4.

  • Immediate impact from the draft? Lane Johnson is working as the starting right offensive tackle, Zach Ertz is getting plenty of chances to play at tight end and is impressing and that's just the first two draft picks. It's very hard to say how all of the defensive players factor in, although it appears that safety Earl Wolff is getting more reps and that he's playing fast.

  • How would I evaluate the play of wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah? He's coming on, but he still has a ways to go. Momah has done a good job in the last few practices making plays down the field and he's using his height. It's going to be interesting to see how Momah responds when cornerbacks get up in his personal space and try to use press coverage. Can Momah shed defensive backs and create separation? Can he run well enough to get down the field on a regular basis? Momah is someone to watch in the next week or so.

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