We're only a few days into this 2019 Eagles Training Camp, not nearly enough time to make any kind of concrete statements about anything. At the same time, though, the sample size is growing and it's fine to talk about what is happening on the field. The "live" part of Training Camp opens on Tuesday, and that's going to be telling. What we've seen so far is encouraging, with more to come. So, without further ado …
1. The work in offensive line/defensive line one-on-one drills is fascinating to watch because there are so many dynamics at work. So let's focus on some of the young guys. On the defensive side, players like Shareef Miller, Joe Ostman, and Daeshon Hall take some reps and come off the ball fast and transition from speed to power in an impressive fashion. And then you see offensive tackles like Jordan Mailata and top draft pick Andre Dillard move their feet and look so athletic and use their leverage well and stone the pass rush. It's a great watch every day in practice. Of course, the Lane Johnson battle against Brandon Graham is the main event, but we know about those two players. For a team knowing it needs some young players to step up in the pass-rush game off the edge, the Eagles have some promising prospects. And they're equally excited about the youth at offensive tackle.
2. Duce Staley is smiling. He's got a running backs room that has some serious talent and, yes, the Eagles are going to have some difficult decisions to make when it comes time to reducing the roster to 53 players. Jordan Howard looks like he's ready to be the lead man in this room, with rookie Miles Sanders opening eyes with his burst and elusiveness. Corey Clement is working his way back from last season's knee injury and is doing more and more in practice. Darren Sproles looks like Darren Sproles. Wendell Smallwood is having a terrific early Training Camp. Josh Adams is going to be so much better than last year. Boston Scott is a ball of energy whenever he's got the football, and Donnell Pumphrey has more muscle and some juice in the open field. How many running backs do the Eagles keep?
3. There is still some work to do at linebacker. Nigel Bradham continues to rehab from the foot injury he suffered in the playoff loss at New Orleans, so Nathan Gerry has taken quite a few reps at the middle linebacker position. Zach Brown is going to be a factor somewhere in this mix and Kamu Grugier-Hill has been around the football since the spring. The preseason games are going to be critical to figure out the depth chart here.
4. Rodney McLeod took some reps on Monday in seven-on-seven drills and he looks good working his way back from last season's knee injury. In the meantime, Andrew Sendejo is doing his part at safety. He looks really strong in this scheme. Malcolm Jenkins is as versatile as they come and he's able to slide to linebacker when the Eagles go into nickel and dime personnel packages. This is all so early, though. Jim Schwartz has a lot of plans to move the pieces around in the defense.
5. I really think the Eagles have as good a group at wide receiver as they've had in many years. DeSean Jackson has made plays every day in camp. Alshon Jeffery is a big receiver who is going to dominate in one-on-one coverage and Nelson Agholor will be a standout from the slot. And those pieces move around, too. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside looks like he belongs. Who is the fifth receiver? It could be a number of players, including Mack Hollins, who was moving around well after missing last season. He suffered a lower-body injury and didn't practice Monday, so let's hope this is only a minor setback. Charles Johnson is a veteran who knows his way around the NFL. This is where the preseason matters. Jobs are going to be won in these games.
6. Another position where the preseason games are going to matter: Cornerback. A deep position. Sidney Jones has stepped up in this camp. Rasul Douglas keeps getting better and better. Avonte Maddox deserves to play. With Ronald Darby (knee), Jalen Mills (foot), and Cre'Von LeBlanc (foot) not practicing, the Eagles who are taking reps are making the most of them. Adding Orlando Scandrick to the mix helps. He's a proven cornerback who comes in and has a chance to show the Eagles what he can do. No guarantees here. He'll challenge for a roster spot and playing time.
7. While the Eagles haven't tackled to the ground yet (that's coming on Tuesday, one of two "live" periods in this Training Camp), this team has the makings of a very physical group. The offensive line gets after it. The wide receivers are strong blockers in the running game. Zach Ertz has improved a ton through the years and Dallas Goedert has some "nasty" in him as a blocker, and they more than hold their own. The defense plays downhill and gets after it. The Eagles, I'm confident in saying, aren't going to be a "finesse" team this season.
8. Nobody talks much about special teams at this time of the year, but it's important to note that the Eagles return their kicking-game operation once again with Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnston, and Rick Lovato working together. Sproles is the leading contender to return punts. The Eagles are going to tilt the field to their advantage on special teams this year.
9. What's next? An increase in the practice tempo is coming, the preseason opener is just over a week away, the Ravens will soon be in town, and, yeah, a roster is going to start to be shaped through the month of August. Good times to come. The Eagles are off to an excellent start in Training Camp with the crunch time of camp directly in front of us.