Chicago and the preseason opener happens on Friday (8 PM, 6abc TV) and the picture is coming more into focus for the Eagles. Plots, subplots and legitimate storylines rule the day as Game Week arrives.
- Let's begin on the defensive side of the ball, where the Eagles are extremely pleased with what they've seen in the secondary, for starters.
Nolan Carroll IIhas been a factor nearly every day in practice and his presence adds size and flexibility to the coverage packages. If the Eagles want to use another cornerback in coverage, Carroll has the size and the range to cover the big wide receivers on the schedule. He's been really impressive in Training Camp. I like the way these cornerbacks are shaping up with Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Boykinand Carroll making for a strong foursome at the position. Rookie Jaylen Watkinshas made some plays in camp. Curtis Marshmade a sensational interception during Sunday's training session. Roc Carmichaelis a tenacious kid. Davon Morganand Daytawion Loweare making progress and hope to open eyes in the preseason games.
- Wide receiver
B.J. Cunninghamenjoyed a terrific Sunday in front of the nearly 25,000 fans at Lincoln Financial Field's Open Practice and is, the perspective here says, going to make a roster push before the summer is finished. He has good size and has shown he can really go up and get the football. The coaches wanted competition in camp and they're getting it and wide receiver is a position where that is truly evident. Quron Prattwas also on the highlight reel with a fantastic, comeback diving catch on the sidelines. Najee Goodehas emerged as a critical player in the big picture on defense. The media surrounded him after Sunday's practice as Goode played inside for a number of snaps with the first-team defense. He's going to give the Eagles quality depth at the inside linebacker positions, both of them. The question there is: Who else can add to the mix with Goode, DeMeco Ryansand Mychal Kendricks?
- The Eagles have taken a look at a large handful of players on kickoff returns, including
Darren Sproles, Josh Huff, Boykin, Damaris Johnsonand Jordan Matthews. I'm looking forward to seeing who gets the call in the preseason games. It could be as simple as using Sproles, a dynamic return man. Maybe that's the direction that special teams coordinator Dave Fipp takes. Or maybe someone else steps up and allows Sproles to save some energy for his role in the offense. That's why they play the games ...
- Talked with Brian Baldinger from NFL Network and, of course, the analyst on the Eagles' television broadcasts in the preseason. He thinks
Henry Joseycan make this roster at running back. "He's as quick as they come," said Baldinger. "Before his knee injury, he was the best running back in the Big 12. He made a remarkable comeback and he looks quick on the field now." With Chris Polksidelined for the last week, Josey has made the most of his opportunities. Alex Heneryis kicking the ball very, very well. He looks stronger and is accurate and confident. Mark Sanchezhas looked so comfortable in this offense and it's going to be interesting to watch him in the preseason games. Sanchez and wide receiver Jordan Matthews have a good thing going, so look for that duo to connect in the preseason games. Matt Barkleyhad a circle of reporters around him after Sunday's training session as Barkley cranks up his performance in Year 2. James Caseywas a bit of a forgotten man last year in the offense after signing as an unrestricted free agent from Houston, but he didn't let any disappointment creep into his game. Nobody works harder. Casey's body is ripped and he's as focused as any player I've seen. He is a huge part of the special teams story and he's a valuable "fit in" piece in the offense. You can count on him to be in the right spot at the right time, always.
- Not a lot of words have been written about Josh Huff in the summer, but he's coming along well. He's obviously explosive and he's catching the ball more consistently. He works hard at his game.
- Still trying to make sense of the depth chart along the defensive line. There is some major competition going on here. Some jobs are going to be won and lost in the preseason games. Anybody who thinks the coaching staff and personnel department already know the 53-man roster is mistaken.