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Setting Up The Rest Of Camp

Posted Jul 30, 2013

The tempo has been high and the intensity level demanding, so Tuesday's day off for the players was one to cherish and use wisely as the days dwindle prior to next Friday's preseason opener ...

I admit to not having a feel for what the Eagles are all about, and I'm not sure anyone can say with confidence that they know given the limited sample. The Eagles haven't tackled -- more on that later -- and they have not yet played in a game.

I've seen enough in practice to offer a perspective, for whatever it's worth, as the depth chart takes some form of shape leading into next week's joint practices with the Patriots and the preseason opener against New England.

  • Jeremy Maclin's recovery is underway and he's determined to make a speedy and successful recovery. Everyone wishes him the best of luck. Great kid and a very fine player. In the meantime, the Eagles had enough numbers issues to bring back Nick Miller to take reps in practice. They haven't made any moves to work out some of the "name" free agents on the streets. Clearly, they want to see what the current roster can produce before going out and looking at other options.

  • With that in mind, Riley Cooper and Damaris Johnson appeared to have very productive camp practices to date. Cooper is using his body well and has caught everything thrown his way since an early drop or two. Johnson is super quick, is staying on his feet and is very difficult to cover for a group of cornerbacks that, truth be told, has been impressive. Russell Shepard has offered a lot of quickness and promise as well.

  • On the topic of cornerbacks, Bradley Fletcher is a player. He seems to be in the right place at the right time. I like what Brandon Boykin has shown at camp. I'm looking forward to seeing Eddie Whitley in game action. The disappointment has been Cary Williams' lingering injury. Can't wait to see him on the field.

  • Of the rookies, the word is that Lane Johnson is making terrific strides and is right where the Eagles want him to be. Tight end Zach Ertz looks so smooth and natural as a pass catcher, and his athletic ability is clearly evident. Tough to say much about defensive tackle Bennie Logan without tackling. The games are going to tell us so much.

  • I still maintain that this is going to be a run-based offense. At the very least, the Eagles should have a lot of confidence pounding the rock. With the way this offensive line is shaping up, and with the talent at running back, wow. So excited to see the run game get cranked up.

  • How will defensive coordinator Bill Davis use Trent Cole? It could be that he's a hybrid end, sometimes with his hand on the ground and sometimes standing up. I'm not sure how much Cole will be asked to drop into coverage. The Eagles are going to need Cole to get to the quarterback.

  • Connor Barwin is a player. He's excellent in coverage, he's got long arms to handle blockers and he can get up the field and to the quarterback. Plus, Barwin is an intense, nasty, physical player. You're going to like him.

  • Losing Jason Phillips to a torn ACL is a downer, as the Eagles hoped Phillips would aid on special teams and add depth at linebacker. I look at someone like Casey Matthews and see him fitting into that role -- he needs to step it up on special teams and make an impact there and show the coaches that he can be a solid linebacker here.

  • One player who has really caught my eye the last couple of practices is safety Kenny Phillips. I can see him being used effectively in coverage. Phillips is running well and he's got long arms and I see him draped on receivers in practice. Good start in camp for Phillips, who needs to stay healthy.

  • Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland raves about center Jason Kelce, and it's worthy praise. Kelce is the control center of the offensive line and seems to be thriving in what Stoutland is asking him to do. Sometimes you don't realize just how good a player is until he's lost to injury. Having Kelce healthy is huge for the offense.

  • Anyone who has been to an Eagles Training Camp practice in the last few years knows that wide receiver Jason Avant is almost impossible to cover. He is still breaking ankles in coverage. Avant's crisp routes and attention to detail remains enviable.

  • I understand head coach Chip Kelly's decision to hold off on tackling to the ground during camp. The key part of the phrase is "to the ground." The Eagles work on form tackling and wrapping up and all of the basics, so there will be no excuses if a player misses a tackle in the preseason games. If not tackling "to the ground" prevents one injury in camp, then Kelly's decision is well worth it.

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