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5 Things: The Blueprint For Success


The Eagles return to the practice field after a day off on Tuesday. The pads are back on and the next few days are expected to include live-hitting drills for the first time, truly marking the physical difference with Doug Pederson as the head coach. Pederson will address the media following practice at around 11 AM. You can watch here on or on our app.

1. King: Lots Of Positive Signs From Eagles Camp

The MMQB's Peter King joined Dave Spadaro on the latest episode of the Eagles Live podcast. King laid out his blueprint for the Eagles to win double-digit games in 2016.

A. A healthy Sam Bradford who completes a high percentage of his passes.

B. They're what they should be on defense and Jim Schwartz lets Vinny Curry loose.

"You look at the situation they're in - a winnable division, there's not a dominant team in the division. There's a bunch of question marks in the division," King said. "There's no reason they can't win 11 games."

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2. Spadaro's Five Keys To A Successful Campaign

In his column for Bleeding Green Nation, Dave Spadaro followed up on King's comments with his own roadmap for a successful season. One area that has not been mentioned much in Training Camp is special teams. It's hard to get a bead on the "third unit" because it will be greatly shaped by the roster cuts. Plus, there are no live contact drills for returns during camp. We have to wait until the preseason.

Still, the league's best special teams unit over the past two seasons with coordinator Dave Fipp in charge still deserves to be looked at as a strength heading into 2016.

"He's got his core players back, a great scheme and a team that understands the importance of playing solid special teams," Spadaro wrote. "Donnie Jones is kicking as well as he has ever kicked. Jon Dorenbos is one of the league's best long snappers. Both Cody Parkey and Caleb Sturgis are NFL-quality placekickers. Darren Sproles is a game-breaking punt returner."

3. Greg Lewis Scouts The Wide Receivers

Wide receivers coach Greg Lewis knows that the Eagles don't have someone of the caliber of an Antonio Brown or Julio Jones on the roster. That's just fine with him.

"I see guys who have a different skill set all around that all mesh well together because everyone does something different that's good, real good," Lewis said. "You have no idea where the ball is going. That gives us an advantage in my opinion."

The Ringer posted a column stating that we are in the Golden Age of the Slot Receiver position. Any article lavishing praise on prolific inside pass-catchers must mention Jordan Matthews. Entering his third season, Matthews has 152 catches in his first two NFL seasons - 10th all time for a player in that time frame. Lewis said that Matthews will move around more in 2016, but he explained what makes the young Eagle such a tough matchup in the slot.

"Jordan's a unique player. His skill set is just special for someone inside in the slot because the guys that you're going against are normally quicker and faster, but they're shorter. Jordan is just as quick, just as fast as those guys in the slot, but now he brings that element of size and strength," Lewis said. "That's an advantage for us in that situation, but he can do the same thing outside."

4. Hicks Ready To Quarterback The Defense

Jordan Hicks was supposed to be a special teams maven as a rookie, buried on the depth chart. Well, sometimes "the best laid schemes of mice and men go often askew," as the poet Robert Burns wrote.

Hicks was enjoying a Rookie-of-the-Year-type of season until he suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the overtime win at Dallas. The same game in which he returned an interception for a touchdown.

Fully healthy, Hicks is now the starter in the middle of the 4-3 defense. He will wear the radio inside the helmet. And he's embracing the leadership aspect that comes along with it.

"I think I'm a fairly good mental linebacker, somebody who is able to think, put things together quickly, process what the offense is trying to do based off the game plan," Hicks said. "I think that's my advantage and that I do a pretty good job at that, so when I get the opportunity to be in that situation with Coach (Jim) Schwartz being able to have that faith and that type of trust in me to really put some stuff in my hands and make certain calls at certain times, that's the chess game that I love, playing with the offense and being in that position."

Here's a question for you, Eagles fans. Who will be this year's Jordan Hicks? By that, I mean the player who is not expected to play, but will have an impact.

5. Back In The NFC East?

Hicks derailed the Dallas Cowboys' chances of winning the division in 2015 when he sacked quarterback Tony Romo and fractured his collarbone. The backup quarterbacks couldn't produce and the Cowboys ended up with the No. 4 overall pick in the draft.

On Tuesday, the Cowboys lost their top backup quarterback in Kellen Moore with a broken left ankle. One potential name to watch is former Eagle Nick Foles. Released by the Rams, Foles is currently a free agent. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones recently dismissed the idea of signing the ex-Eagle, but this was before Moore's injury.

Fourth-round pick Dak Prescott is now the top backup to Romo.

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