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I Know What The Eagles Have Done This Summer

They have played three preseason games and have done far more good than not good. What do we know about the Eagles at this point in the preseason? Here is what the Eagles have shown to this observer ...

  • The running game can be a very powerful weapon. The backs are talented and versatile. Brian Westbrook looks great. Correll Buckhalter is better than ever. Lorenzo Booker is quick and versatile. What is most telling is the way the offensive line is playing -- firing off the ball, playing power football and opening holes on demand. I think the Eagles are going to run the ball quite a bit this year. Will it be a 50/50 ratio? I don't know about that, but the Eagles can run the ball and they will.
  • If the rotation stays intact, the defensive line has a chance to be excellent. Trent Cole is a tremendous right end. The four-man rotation at tackle is as trustworthy as I can remember -- I consider Dan Klecko a more active version of Paul Grasmanis as a fourth tackle -- and there is some depth at left end. There are a couple of keys, however. Darren Howard has to build on his off-season and be a presence at both end spots. Chris Clemons has to get on the field and learn the defense and be a threat. Right now, he's a huge disappointment. Bryan Smith may not be ready quite yet, but he's coming on very quickly. Juqua Parker is a high-effort, productive player who is best suited in a rotation. Jerome McDougle has made this whole picture mighty interesting with one preseason game to go. And Victor Abiamiri continues his rehab from a wrist injury and is going to be part of the defense before too long. How many games will Abiamiri miss? Two? Three? Four? I don't know. But I know he is excited to get back on the field, and the Eagles are looking forward to the day he returns.
  • Donovan McNabb looks as good as he has ever looked, and the offense is right there with him. To succeed, though, the offense is going to have to beat blitzes. I think defenses are going to test tackles Tra Thomas and Jon Runyan off the edge with blitzes and stunts and things like that.
  • Sav Rocca is a much better punter now than he was a year ago. Expect him to improve as the season gets longer. He is more technically sound and confident in his technique. The leg strength has always been there. Now Rocca is simply not kicking the ball. He is learning to master the craft.
  • David Akers has improved his leg strength and has boomed the ball very well. I know there are some questions about his accuracy from 40-49 yards, and he has to answer those by making his kicks from long distance. But Akers no doubt has his groove back after a tough season a year ago.
  • The receivers have played very well in the preseason. Jason Avant is a weapon inside and DeSean Jackson, Greg Lewis and Hank Baskett have played well at the X and Z positions. Keep it up. All eyes are on you.
  • Kevin Curtis is going to be missed. No matter how you slice it, the Eagles are better with Curtis on the field. Let's hope he returns soon from his sports hernia surgery. There is no timetable for when Curtis will get back on the field, so anybody who reports an expected date is guessing.
  • Jackson, Quintin Demps, Trevor Laws and Joe Mays are going to play as rookies. Smith may. When is the last time you knew going into the fourth preseason game that four of the Eagles' rookie draft picks were good enough to play at this level in their first seasons?
  • Kevin Kolb looks better every week. I like his poise, his presence in the pocket and the way he steps into his throws and delivers accurately. Some day, he is going to be outstanding.
  • While the special teams took a big leap forward last week, the group as a whole needs to cut down on its penalties. The Eagles won't win if the special teams don't play well.
  • The four cornerbacks who definitely will be on the roster -- Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard and Joselio Hanson -- are as good a foursome as the Eagles have had in many, many years. I think all four of them could line up and play against anybody. Samuel has that certain swagger and outgoing, confident personality that the defense needed.
  • A prediction: If Stewart Bradley doesn't have a superb year, I won't take much stock in what I see in practice and in the summer months. The kid has all the tools. Everything.
  • Of all the linebackers on the roster, Akeem Jordan may be the most athletically gifted. He is ready for an impact season.
  • Nobody should take Brian Dawkins playing 16 games for granted. He needs to get healthy and stay healthy. He has had a tough year and then some battling a variety of injuries.
  • Max Jean-Gilles improved a ton when Shawn Andrews was out in training camp. That bodes well for depth along the offensive line.
  • For Andrews to just walk in, take a week to tune up his conditioning and then play the way he played last week in New England was pretty remarkable. He is a great offensive lineman.
  • The fullback job remains an open competition, with Tony Hunt currently in the lead. Jason Davis remains a candidate. Jed Collins came from nowhere and remains in the picture, either as a member of the 53-man roster or as a definite practice squad prospect.
  • No fifth cornerback has clearly emerged, and the guess here is that the Eagles will keep four on the roster.
  • We learned that McDougle, when healthy, can play the game. He has had a fine summer at defensive end and will have a job in the NFL -- maybe with the Eagles -- this season.
  • One year removed from his sports hernia and groin injuries, L.J. Smith is running freely and playing good football. He has reminded us that he is a good tight end, and one who should be used in the passing game on a regular season. Also, the position is extremely well stocked with Smith, Brent Celek, Matt Schobel and Kris Wilson on board for now. Only three will stay on the active roster.
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