With great enthusiasm and purpose, the Eagles head into their final four Organized Team Activities practices intent on having a great week of work, setting the scene for training camp and learning more about what they have. With that in mind, here are some important top-line stories to discuss and evaluate.
**KEVIN KOLB'S PROGRESS
It is amazing how, in such a short period of time, Kolb has taken over the football team. It truly has been a seamless transition, at least to this point. How the players rally around Kolb in times of stress remain to be seen, but right now Kolb is clearly the leader here. He is such a natural on and off the field, and Kolb has enjoyed a strong spring.
Kolb certainly appears made for this style of offense. He is going to get the football out very quickly, and hopefully very accurately. The Eagles want to expand the scheme as much as they can with Kolb getting the football to his array of weapons. Kolb has been a great student in the off-season and he has done everything right to take advantage of his opportunity.
With his maturity and his cool demeanor, Kolb has met every challenge thrown at him by the coaches, by his teammates and by the media. Kolb is extremely self-critical, so he doesn't give himself a pass as he evaluates his practice performance.
Good start, then, for Kolb. He has thrown the ball well, but we won't see him and evaluate him much until the preseason, at the earliest. That big red No. 4 provides a level of comfort for Kolb that comes off only when the other side of the line of scrimmage wears a different jersey.
DEPTH CHART UPDATE
Where are some of the key battles to update? Nick Cole has a strong leg up at center. Max Jean-Gilles has played left guard with Todd Herremans (foot) out, and Stacy Andrews is the starter at right guard. The offense seems pretty set as far as the starting lineup goes. The defense is another story. Juqua Parker remains the starter at left end, but there is going to be competition in the summer at training camp. The jumble for playing time is going to be great to watch.
Moise Fokou seems to have a firm grip at SAM linebacker with Ernie Sims on the weak side and Stewart Bradley at MIKE. The secondary, though, is far from settled.
Ellis Hobbs has yet to take part in 11-on-11 drills, and while the prognosis is good as he angles at a starting job at cornerback, there have to be questions until he is on the field. In his absence, Joselio Hanson has been starting on the right side, and Macho Harris has taken a lot of reps. Rookie Trevard Lindley has come on strong in the last week, while Dimitri Patterson and Geoff Pope have had strong springs.
There is, by no means, an etched-in-stone starter here. Competition is the name of the game at right cornerback.
At free safety, Nate Allen has taken charge with Marlin Jackson injured. Quintin Demps has stepped up, too. But the Eagles won't know for sure until late in training camp, if then, who is the clear-cut leader there.
**HAVE THERE BEEN DISAPPOINTMENTS?
Certainly, Jackson's injury was rough for everyone. He had worked so hard to get back to the point where he was on the field and playing well. Other than that, it's hard to really say there have been players who have not played well. If you aren't playing well in shells and shorts, you really shouldn't be here.
The Eagles need to work overtime with safety Kurt Coleman, the seventh-round draft pick from Ohio State, who arrives at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday. He has a lot of catching up to do, and the NCAA rule keeping players away from their NFL lives until the current academic class graduates seems absurd. That's another story for another day, though ...
A couple of young players, Alex Hall and Ricky Sapp, are moving around from linebacker to end on defense, and they need to find a home to make this roster.
Herremans is a disappointment because he hasn't been able to practice, but the medical reports say he should be OK. Same with LeSean McCoy, who has missed time with a sprained ankle.
But who has simply not played well? Hey, everybody plays well or they get cut.
**WHICH ROOKIES WILL MAKE AN IMPACT?
Impossible to say, but Brandon Graham has done all that the Eagles have asked, Allen is in the starting lineup as we speak, Daniel Te'o-Nesheim is in line to play a lot, Riley Cooper is taking more and more reps at wide receiver, Charles Scott is seemingly ahead of Eldra Buckley, and Jeff Owens is going to push at defensive tackle.
The coaches have a whole lot to do to get this draft class ready to go. Allen, of course, is at the top of that list. He has to take on a very difficult position and learn it all in a short period of time. The Eagles want Allen to start. That's why they drafted him so high.
A darkhorse to get some time? Lindley's play has been really outstanding in the last week. He may have found his stride, and now Lindley has to build upon it and keep working on his technique and his knowledge of the defense.