I'm wondering about a lot of things with a moment to pause. This has been a great Eagles training camp, and anybody who has watched the team practice – in person at Lehigh or through our coverage on Training Camp Live! – sees the same thing. The roster is loaded, top to bottom, with more talent than any team Andy Reid has ever coached here. The tempo at practice is great.
The plan and execution to have training camp has paid off. Reid knew his roster was going to be vastly different than it was a season ago. He wanted his players to have seclusion, to have time together and to begin to build chemistry. Had the Eagles held camp at the NovaCare Complex, players would have probably been less likely to experience those "dorm-room moments" together.
At Lehigh, it is all football and team.
Anyway, with the preseason opener approaching (Thursday, 7:30 p.m. vs. Ravens, seen locally on 6abc, Satellite coordinates Galaxy 3C, Transponder 21C), there are some bullet points to discuss about this team …
- The cornerbacks have dominated the one-on-one drills and the 11-on-11 portion of practice. With DeSean Jackson expected on the field on Saturday, the cornerbacks will face a new challenge, a blazing-speed challenge. The work will be great for both the cornerbacks and for Jackson. Working against this group of cornerbacks every day will make him a better wide receiver.
- The next question, I know, is about Jeremy Maclin. When can he practice? Nobody has provided an update and I understand fans worrying a bit about that. The fact that the Eagles haven't gone out and signed any of the very signable wide receivers tells me that they expect Maclin back for the regular season. Maclin has said he will be back for the regular season. Meanwhile, we hope for him to get on the practice field very soon.
- Same with Mike Patterson, in that there is no update on when he might return to the practice field. Maybe we will hear something when the team returns to Lehigh after the Ravens game and hits the field on Saturday.
- Speaking of defensive tackle, the competition is quite intense with the additions of rookie Cedric Thornton and veterans Anthony Hargrove and Derek Landri. Trevor Laws has to get healthy and get on the field to win a job. Jim Washburn wants his tackles to be explosive, up-the-field threats.
- Who wins the job at right tackle? Ryan Harris is likely to start on Thursday night, so he is the leading contender. Winston Justice continues to rehab from his knee surgery. It would be nice to have two veterans to count on there for Michael Vick's blind side.
- Thursday is a big, big game for receivers like Chad Hall and Rod Harper. They will get a lot of reps and they will have chances to make plays. Remember, a preseason game is an audition for players in front of all 32 teams.
- I haven't spent much time talking about the rookie linebackers, but I will be watching Brian Rolle and Greg Lloyd intensely against Baltimore. The Ravens like to pound the football. The Eagles have to show that they can stop a good ground game. Rolle and Lloyd have to get it done from the line of scrimmage and on special teams.
- Why do I think that Akeem Jordan will make it again as a backup and special teams ace?
- I had written a lot about Marlin Jackson during the work stoppage, expecting him to potentially be an impact player at safety. Jackson has been hobbled by a groin injury, which is a serious setback for a veteran who has missed three straight seasons with injuries. Jarrod Page has moved quickly ahead of Jackson on the depth chart, injury or not.
- Big game for rookie running back Dion Lewis, a fifth-round draft pick. He missed some practice time with a hamstring injury and is working his way back into the scene behind LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown. I like this group of backs. Eldra Buckley is a standout on special teams and both Craig Cooper and Derrick Locke have caught my eye in training camp. Who wins the job as the third running back?
- I want to see Vince Young drop back and let it rip in the preseason game. What I don't want him to do is drop back, hold the ball, hold the ball, and then look for running lanes. For Young to progress to where he wants to go, he needs to accurately throw the ball into small windows. The coaches are spending a lot of time with all of the quarterbacks on the little things – footwork, release point, arm slot … everything.
- Interesting that Howard Mudd appears to have moved Mike McGlynn mostly to guard, rather than center. McGlynn filled in capably when Jamaal Jackson was injured last season, but with Jason Kelce on the team, McGlynn has taken more reps at guard than he has at center in training camp. He is listed as a backup on the roster at guard.