They are down to their final week of practices, and then another week after that concludes the off-season conditioning program, and then it is rest and relaxation time for the Eagles before training camp begins. The focus of the spring camps has been on the development of quarterback Kevin Kolb and the integration of the new Eagles into the scheme. Let's talk about how some of these newcomers appear to be fitting in ...
**BRANDON GRAHAM, DE
He is going to have a chance to see big-time snaps. Graham seems to have a good grasp of the things Rory Segrest is teaching him and Graham clearly has a terrific burst off the line of scrimmage. He has a great attitude, is a hard worker and, well, we're going to know all we need to know about Graham pretty quickly once the pads go on.
The Eagles are counting on Graham to contribute this year. He is running second team at left end, and that is certainly subject to change. Graham is also getting looking in the nickel package. He has not at all been a disappointment to date.
**MIKE BELL, RB
You watch Bell in practice and it just seems that he wants to hit somebody. He gets the ball in his hands and Bell seeks contact. Bell has already come a long way since signing here as an unrestricted free agent and the sprained ankle suffered by LeSean McCoy only means that Bell gets more reps in practice. He is taking full advantage.
Bell is playing very fast and he has the tempo of the offense down after some illegal-motion penalties when he went in motion during the post-draft camp. Bell looks very, very good so far.
**DARRYL TAPP, DE
It is going to be interesting to see how the Eagles use Tapp, who arrived via trade with Seattle prior to the draft. He seems to have some versatility to his game and the Eagles may very well use Tapp at tackle in the nickel alignment, at right end to spell Trent Cole and even in some Joker situations. Tapp has the skills to really help the defense and add some depth to a line that is going to rotate a lot of players.
**NATE ALLEN, S
Here is your starter at free safety ... for now, anyway. The Eagles drafted Allen with the intention of getting him on the field. He had been running as a reserve free safety until Marlin Jackson suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, so Allen bumped up to the starting role since then. Allen has a lot of confidence in his game and in his ability to pick up the system. He is a rangy player with excellent instincts.
Like all of these defensive players, the true tale comes when the pads go on. In the meantime, Allen will learn very quickly what he needs to do to be successful in this scheme.
**RILEY COOPER, WR
A lot has been said here about Cooper, and here is more. He impresses every day in practice with his strong hands. Cooper plucks the ball out of the air and is a huge target for the quarterbacks. Cooper has created separation in his route running and he has been very sure handed. He could be a nice target in tight areas, using his body to box out and snatch the football.
We'll see how Cooper does when the cornerbacks can put on pads and play some bump-and-run coverage, but for now he has done everything very well, and he has been rewarded with a lot of reps in this passing camp. Next up: Can he contribute on special teams?
ERNIE SIMS, LB
Sean McDermott clearly has big plays for Sims, acquired in a trade with Detroit prior to the draft. Sims moves around the defensive scheme and drops into coverage, blitzes and is freed up in space to run and make plays. One of the goals of the defense is to get Sims to the football. And the worst thing that can happen is having him clogged up by a 330-pound offensive guard.
So McDermott will be creative with Sims. He is going to go after the football, no matter where it is and no matter who is touching it. The Eagles need Sims to be a playmaker.
DANIEL TE'O-NESHEIM, DE/DT
Te'o-Nesheim plays with a lot of energy and he brings it on every play. He has lined up at left defensive end and inside in the nickel. Again, without pads it is very difficult to know. A key for Te'O-Nesheim is that he maintains and even gains a few pounds and that he continues to build his strength. Te'o-Nesheim has to guard against being worn down by the sheer mass of NFL offensive linemen.
Technically, Te'o-Nesheim seems very, very sound. He learns fast and he applies his lessons well. He will be a high-octane player at training camp.
MIKE KAFKA, QB
He does not have a cannon for an arm, and there have been some throws in this passing camp where Kafka could have used more ooomph to get ball there. But Kafka is very accurate, he has a quick release and his throws are fine for this scheme. Added arm strength will come as Kafka improves his overall strength and his technique.
From a mental standpoint, Kafka has handled it all very well. He understands the concepts of the offense.
**TREVARD LINDLEY, CB
Lindley did not really stand out until the last few days of this week, and suddenly has been around the ball a lot. Whatever it was that kicked in, Lindley looks worlds more comfortable. He is breaking well on the ball and he has improved his body positioning and his recognition of the routes in a short period of time.
So what does that mean for Lindley down the road? It means that he needs to keep improving every day and challenge for a roster spot and playing time. The Eagles have some good competition at cornerback with Ellis Hobbs, Joselio Hanson, Macho Harris, Geoff Pope, Dimitri Patterson and Asante Samuel and long shots like David Pender joining Lindley in the battle for four or five roster spots. Devin Ross, listed as a cornerback, has moved to safety to take some reps.