The first Training Camp practice is only eight days away. Between now and then, we will look at the biggest Training Camp storylines facing the Eagles. Today, here is a look at the comeback players (not including Carson Wentz) and how they fit into the plans for 2019.
Fran Duffy: I’m going to go with a guy who we haven’t really seen in meaningful action on the field since Super Bowl LII, and that’s third-year receiver Mack Hollins.
It’s easy for his name to fly under the radar because of the additions of DeSean Jackson and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, but Hollins was a big fixture on that championship roster two seasons ago. He’s a big body who can run, showed great development as a route runner in his rookie season, and, perhaps most importantly, is a dynamite special teams player. Hollins missed all of Training Camp and the entire 2018 season, so his return to the field will be met with watchful eyes as everyone anticipates the impact he can have in his third year in the league. With his speed to attack downfield, he is able to provide this offense with even a little more juice on the outside as a viable weapon for Carson Wentz.
Dave Spadaro: There are a host of players injured last season who are expected to come back and provide a real lift to the roster this season. But there is one who is in line to contribute in a number of ways who may not generate headlines, but will help the Eagles in a big way.
Corey Clement was a rookie season-standout as a running back who helped as a receiver, occasionally as a runner, certainly as a pass blocker, and most definitely on special teams. After a roller-coaster 2018 season that ended with a knee injury suffered in the overtime loss in Dallas, Clement is poised to be a jack-of-all-trades help again this season.
Clement may not carry the football all that much and, heck, his touches might be limited overall. How much Clement plays remains to be seen with the upgrades the Eagles have made at running back – adding Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders – but he’s going to make a difference. Clement has something to prove this season and he’s going to be in the best shape of his life, and that is a good thing for the backfield picture and the special teams situation. If you want to latch on to an “underrated” player coming back from injury, or just an under-the-radar kind of player who is going to help this football team in 2019, Clement’s name should be near the top of the list. He’s an excellent receiver, a terrific pass blocker (who could be the best in the running backs room here), and a difference-maker on special teams.
The Eagles are glad to have him healthy and in position to help in 2019.
Chris McPherson: The first two players listed were rookies on the Super Bowl team. My player to watch was a first-year Eagle in 2017, but wasn't a rookie. He actually contributed down the stretch in 2018, but only in a limited fashion and that's defensive tackle Tim Jernigan.
The ideal complement to Fletcher Cox in 2017, Jernigan tied a career high with nine tackles for loss and posted a total of 18 QB pressures and hits. Most importantly, teams paid the price for double-teaming Cox.
A back injury kept Jernigan sidelined for the first 10 games of 2018. He came back for the home win against the Giants, but missed the next three games. He returned for the final two regular-season and two postseason contests and started getting back to his disruptive self.
Brought back on a one-year deal, Jernigan shed 15 pounds and is hungry to prove himself once again. Yes, the Eagles brought in Malik Jackson to give the Eagles quite a formidable three-man rotation atop the defensive tackle depth chart.
Cox is in the prime of his career, but he played 80 percent of the snaps in 2018 compared to 59 percent in the Super Bowl season. Jernigan is in position to alleviate the situation this year.