Philadelphia Eagles News

Camp Notes At Halfway Point

My perspective is this: The Eagles have a chance to be a darn fine football team. There is a ton of talent on the field. The competition for roster spots that the coaches hoped to see has transpired. The rookies who we thought had a chance to gain significant playing time have, in fact, been as impressive as hoped.

So ...

I'm in one of those moods with the weekend here -- although, to be honest, every day at training camp is Groundhog Day -- to write a "wondering" column, which, no doubt, will wander as well.

As in, "I wonder why/if/when ..."

  • There is no question I could be lacking in memory -- two weeks of high temperatures and heavy work does that to a fellow -- but I don't recall a group of Eagles running backs who have torn it up as much as this foursome. LeSean McCoy has been every bit of what he was a year ago, and maybe even a mite better as he has shown the ability to run through tacklers. Dion Lewis has made a gigantic leap in Year 2 with improved vision, explosiveness and cut-on-a-dime moves. Bryce Brown, who is gaining the third-most reps in practice, has been extremely productive catching the ball and reaching the second level on the ground. He has work to do in the blocking part of the game, as does every young running back. His style reminds me of, and I am going to make sure that you understand that I'm talking about style only, are you ready? ... Herschel Walker. Small steps to the line of scrimmage, kind of hunched over, and, bam, he's through the hole and gliding. that's my early impression, anyway. Chris Polk is a bruiser, a productive player, having a terrific camp. 
  • So if the Eagles have so many good running backs, will they maybe, possibly, run the ball a little bit more? Sure, they could. They are going to make defenses respect the running game, at least. I think that if defenses play seven in the box, the Eagles running game will make them pay.
  • I'm not worried about the long list of injured players, because most of them will be on the field when the team returns to the NovaCare Complex for a couple of weeks of practice, but the defense needs to be better up front, particularly against the running game.
  • One of my under-the-radar players who deserves to be on this 53-man roster if the Eagles can fit him in in any way is defensive tackle Cedric Thornton. Kid is having an outstanding camp. He's put the offseason to good work and is much stronger and explosive.
  • The Draft Class of 2012 isn't fazed by the intensity of training camp one bit. Who's going to play right away? Fletcher Cox will, Mychal Kendricks will, Brandon Boykin will. Vinny Curry could very well be good enough to play right away, but I'm not sure the Eagles can find reps for him with a defensive end group of Trent Cole, Jason Babin, Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt and Darryl Tapp here, plus Cullen Jenkins taking some reps when the Eagles go "heavy" up front. Add in Damaris Johnson, the team's penciled-in punt return man, and the rookies are representing very nicely already.
  • Great crowds at Lehigh. The fans have responded to the flip-flopped schedule, with the afternoon practice the one in pads, and I am guessing that the average crowd has been around 6,000-plus since the veterans arrived. I can't tell you how many fans I've met from Canada, California, Idaho, Long Island, etc. Eagles fans are everywhere ...
  • How many cornerbacks do the Eagles keep? I say five, but I can't tell you which five at this point. Somehow, I think Howie Roseman is going to be in position to pull off some trades, dealing players for draft picks and players for players, when the rosters are trimmed. The Eagles are going to have some tough, tough decisions to make.
  • As for draft picks, the Eagles have all of theirs in rounds one through seven in 2013, plus a sixth-rounder they acquired in the Brodrick Bunkley trade in 2011 with Denver and now, if all goes according to plan, a seventh-round pick from the Colts. That's nine draft picks in hand already.
  • Had a chat with Clark Judge from CBSports.com on Friday and he related to me that coaches and personnel people he's talked to say the Eagles are "the team to beat" in the NFC East. "They're loaded," said Judge. "This team has so much talent." Sounds great, but let's just go out and win games on the field.
  • Most improved players from the end of last season to now: 1) Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie; 2) Brandon Graham; 3) Dion Lewis. All three are dominating practices in their own ways every day.
  • By the way, Damaris Johnson is a good receiver. Very good. He runs into and out of his routes at the same speed and has strong hands. He and Chad Hall are waging a tremendous battle.
  • Marvin McNutt blocked down during Friday's live session when the offense was backed up to the goal line and opened a hole for Lewis, who had a big gain for a first down.
  • Emil Igwenagu is playing his way into consideration for a spot here. He plays fullback and he plays tight end and he has made a bunch of plays these last few days. He and Jeremy Stewart qualify as "where did they come from?" players.
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