The depth chart was released on Tuesday with a few surprises and some position battles that are still being sorted out. One battle finds three men looking to fill one spot at fullback.
Jason Davis comes into 2008 after spending all of last season on the practice squad. Luke Lawton appeared in 11 games for the Colts in 2007 as a reserve running back, fullback and special teams player. The Eagles traded a conditional pick to acquire Lawton after the Dan Klecko experiment was terminated and Klecko was moved back to defensive tackle. Jed Collins capped off a four-year career at Washington State with career highs in receptions (52), yards (512) and touchdowns (3) as a senior tight end who benefited from playing in a spread offense.
As important as offense is, the battle could come down to who plays best on special teams.
"Special teams are a big part of making any team if you are an undrafted guy like myself," Lawton said. "You've got to produce on special teams or they'll find somebody that will."
Coaches and players always talk about how competition forces each individual to reach the next level and Lawton agrees.
"You've got to work constantly everyday because somebody somewhere is working," he said. "And if you take anytime off you're falling behind. So you have to keep fighting everyday because everyday that I'm here is a blessing, so I just have to hang on to it."
The main role of the fullback these days is to be a good lead blocker for the running back and keep people off the quarterback, according to Lawton. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg offered his thoughts on what are the areas of strength or weakness for each guy.
"Luke (Lawton) is right in the middle of learning this offense and so when he gets comfortable with his assignments and the techniques and the fundamentals, cause it's a little bit different than what he's been accustomed to, at that point his natural ability will show," Mornhinweg said. "But we're just getting to that point here. Jed is very smart and fundamentally pretty good. He is big. He is not as fast as the other two but he is very consistent in both the run and the pass coming out of the backfield."
Jason Davis described himself as a realist. The Eagles possess multiple threats on offense, so there will be few touches to go around for the fullback.
"It does not matter how much I bring to the table when you have (Brian) Westbrook, (Lorenzo Booker) Book and (Correll) Buckhalter back there," Davis said. "They're going to be on the field a lot. But when I'm called on to block I'll block. When I'm called on to catch a pass, I'll catch a pass. When I'm called on to run, I'll run."
Davis has a better understanding of what he has to improve upon to hold onto the top spot on the depth chart.
"I am not as big as the other two guys, so I just try to come out here and stay low and be as physical as possible," said the 5-10, 245-pound Davis.
Fullback may not be a "sexy" position, says Lawton, but it remains a necessary component of the offense. The position belongs to Davis as the preseason nears, but Lawton will continue to push him.
"This is the most complex system I have ever been in for a fullback and just learning it on such short notice has been tough," Klecko said, "but I'm making up a lot of ground everyday."
It's most definitely a battle to watch, both for the fans and coaches. The decision will be a difficult one and that's a good problem for a football team to have.
"All three are doing very well," Mornhinweg said. "They're all pushing each other. Jason (Davis) certainly has the upper hand right now because of his experience within our offense. We've got four preseason games to go here so all three of those players will have ample opportunity."