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Pleasant Surprise Of 2010? Names, Please ...

Let's jump to conclusions here and look far, far into the future and talk about some of the players on the current roster who have a chance to step up and make a difference in 2010. Whether or not the Eagles make a big splash in free agency, and regardless of their ability to add instant impact via the draft, I see a few players who could be ready to step up and deliver starting in September.

Don't hold me to these, because I completely admit that this is an idle-day rambling, but there are some players who will jump into the game-day picture with a great off-season and strong play in the camps after the draft. Here are some at the top of my list ...

**JORDAN NORWOOD, wide receiver


There is something about this kid. We will see if he takes the necessary steps forward in the spring and summer camps. Jordan Norwood has excellent hands, good feet, shows some quickness. He is not a big, physical receiver, so Norwood has to work on his strength and his release off the line of scrimmage.

With DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles are set at the starting spots for years to come. They should never let Jason Avant go, either. But beyond those three, the Eagles have some question marks at wide receiver. Kevin Curtis is coming off an injury-plagued season and there are questions about his long-term spot here. Reggie Brown is looking for more of an opportunity, either here or elsewhere.

It makes sense to wonder if either/neither Curtis or Brown returns. If both leave -- a couple of the questions the Eagles must answer -- the Eagles lack depth at wide receiver. And this is where Norwood -- and Dobson Collins, a practice-squad player who caught everything in practice during the year -- factor into the equation.

**STACY ANDREWS, offensive guard


What a tremendous disappointment it was for everyone that Stacy Andrews was such a non-factor this season. It's going to be a different story for Andrews in 2010. Two years removed from his knee injury, a full season into the way of life under line coach Juan Castillo and Andrews is going to show his ability.

The expectations for Andrews should be high. He should start at right guard and he should be a dominating player in the run game and a good blocker in pass protection. He should have power and he should have the quickness to handle players like Jay Ratliff. Andrews just didn't justify the Eagles' immediate interest in him from last year's free agency, but that doesn't mean it is too late to start contributing. The Eagles have question marks up front on offense and having Andrews enjoy a full-time off-season with all of his strength and his understanding of the offense far more in-depth than it was a year ago is crucial.

There are some serious questions regarding this offensive line next season. Is Jamaal Jackson going to be healthy enough to play? Will Nick Cole and Max Jean-Gilles -- whose contracts expires prior to free agency -- come back? Is Shawn Andrews going to be a factor ever again here? Stacy Andrews' emergence would be a huge, huge, huge boost to this group.

**QUINTIN DEMPS, free safety


In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Quintin Demps went from first team on the depth chart at free safety to inactive late in the season and in the playoff game at Dallas. What happened? Did Demps just not prepare well enough to take on the challenge at free safety? Was he not as far along mentally in the defense as he needed to be? Or did the Eagles just over-evaluate their fourth-round draft pick from a year earlier?

Demps has a lot of making up to do. He remains a talented young player who runs well, who is physical and who has cover skills. There is more to playing free safety in this system than meets the eye, of course. Demps didn't handle the position well at all last year. He could have another chance to prove himself and earn playing time in the defense and as a return man on kickoffs -- Demps is already an outstanding player on special teams in coverage -- and redeem himself for a huge falloff in 2009.

**TREVOR LAWS, defensive tackle


Where did he go? Trevor Laws was the fourth tackle in a three-man rotation in 2009, a shocking fall from grace for a player on whom the Eagles used their first draft pick (second round) in 2008. Can Laws rebound? This is a critical, critical off-season for the young man who played so well at Notre Dame and who showed some flashes of ability as a rookie.

Laws must really apply himself in these coming months. The team clearly likes -- and with good reason -- the play of starters Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley. While not great pass rushers, both tackles are good against the run and will be even better once the Eagles get their linebackers healthy and their rotation straightened out. Third tackle Antonio Dixon is a larger body who is raw but extremely strong and filled with potential.

Where does that leave Laws? In '09, it meant he was inactive for the final five games of the season, including the playoff loss at Dallas. It was a shocking disappearance for a player who could have helped a tired defense a great deal in the stretch weeks of the season.



When he played in the post-draft camps and early in training camp, rookie tight end Cornelius Ingram looked like the deal. He was athletic, he caught the ball fluidly and he was just so natural at the tight end position that it was easy to envision him lining up with Brent Celek to create some nasty mismatches in the Eagles' favor.

Then Ingram got all twisted up in a goal-line drill in training camp and his season was over. Just like that. The Eagles eventually went with Alex Smith, who did a good job blocking and chipping in, but Smith was hardly the athlete or the pass-catching threat that Ingram potentially offered.

Ingram is on his way to full health after rehabbing his knee throughout the season. He has a mental understanding of the offense and should flow right back into that part of the game very quickly.

The key for Ingram is to stay healthy, of course, and to get up to the tempo of an NFL game. If he can do both of those things, this young man will factor into the offense very nicely. It has been a while since the Eagles had two tight ends on the field at the same time as legit threats in the passing game. Ingram could -- and the key word here is *could *-- add a very explosive dimension to the offense.

**VICTOR ABIAMIRI, defensive end


If he could ever go through a season healthy, Victor Abiamiri would be one of those physical, hard-working, productive defensive linemen you appreciate every day because you watch him every day. But Abiamiri has not stayed free of injury and his production has been spotty as an Eagle.

He is due for some good luck. I would be shocked if the Eagles did not add some help up front for their defense, and I would be equally surprised if Abiamiri did not take major steps forward in 2010. He uses his hands well, he is stout and he is quick enough off the ball to help the nickel defense with its inside pass rush.

Everybody agrees that the Eagles much get more pressure from their front four. A healthy Abiamiri would help, so here is a toast to some good luck for a good young man whose career has not taken off because of some major injuries and some nagging ones that have kept him grounded.

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