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Talking About Some Players Who Must Step Up

Oh, what a boring weekend. Absolutely nothing happening in the NFL. A true "dead" few days, one of the last series of nothing days in a league calendar year. So let's make a little list, check it twice, and talk about some players who have to really step it up to make this team, and make an impact, in 2010.

I'm sure we could add many, many more players, but here are the ones who jump to the front of the line ...


This is obviously a critical off-season for the third-year tackle. Laws regressed last season to the point where he was just a non-factor, bypassed by Antonio Dixon in the rotation. Laws has to get into the conditioning program, get stronger, stay healthy and make a push for playing time. Nothing is guaranteed for Laws. The Eagles could and should challenge him in free agency and the draft.

Can Laws live up to the second-round draft status? This could very well be a make-or-break period of time in his Eagles career.


In a very similar situation as Laws, Quintin Demps has a huge few months ahead of him. He has already been at the NovaCare Complex and knows that he has to treat this time much more effectively than he did a year ago. Demps was the leading candidate to start at free safety in 2009 and he lost that job very early in the process.

Now what? Demps had a miserable 2009 campaign and he's going to face some very stiff competition. Frankly, he has to earn the trust of a coaching staff that benched him as a healthy scratch late in the year. Demps, who had such a promising rookie season, has a lot of ground to make up.


The story is out there. It is well documented. Stacy Andrews had a bust of a season in his first year with the Eagles. He was a coveted free agent (a strong handful of teams went hard after him) and Andrews provided next to nothing on the field for the Eagles. He reportedly is due a roster bonus in the spring and has reportedly said he is willing to restructure his contract.

Whether his injured knee was the reason Andrews was unable to get on the field, or his inability to quickly adapt to the Eagles' scheme, Andrews was one of the bigger disappointments last year. If the reported contract issues are resolved, it will be interesting to see where Andrews lines up in the spring.


Through no fault of his own, Cornelius Ingram spent the year on Injured Reserve. It was so disappointing after Ingram opened so many eyes with his performance in the spring and summer. The young man has worked extremely hard and is on track to get on the field and be ready for training camp and, hopefully, build on the glimpse of promise he showed before the knee injury.

Ingram looks great now. He feels great. If health is not an issue, Ingram has a real chance to be a big contributor working with Brent Celek at tight end.


He deserves some credit for bouncing back last year after a tough go at middle linebacker early in the season. Joe Mays still made plays on special teams and, in fact, was one of the team's leaders there. The Eagles need a sure-thing answer as a backup to Stewart Bradley at middle linebacker and Mays could very well be that guy.

He needs to play with more confidence and instinct at the position. Mays has the physical tools and he'll have a chance to show them, but there is likely to be some competition in the form of Omar Gaither and maybe somebody the Eagles add in the coming months.


Can he every stay healthy? Victor Abiamiri was a second-round draft pick a few years ago. He has the tools. But he can't stay whole in order to show what he's got. Now, well, you expect the Eagles to add a piece or two to the defensive end positions. They need more playmakers at that left side. Is Abiamiri capable of being that guy?


A very similar story, Chris Clemons has been a part-time player for the Eagles. At times, he has looked very good. Other times, most times, he hasn't been as productive as the Eagles need him to be. Clemons has a good burst, and he has those long arms and he has good instincts for success.

But, for whatever reason, Clemons hasn't been able to put it all together on a consistent basis, and that makes him one of the most frustrating players on this roster.


King Dunlap got a taste of the league when he stepped in for an injured Jason Peters at Oakland. After a very tough first half, Dunlap improved a lot in the second half. Is he good enough to step in should something happen to Peters in the future? Can Dunlap take that critical next step and show the Eagles that he is the best player to have as a backup tackle?


There is no player with a better attitude on the roster than Macho Harris. Thrust into an unknown position after an All-American career at cornerback at Virginia Tech, Harris battled through an up-and-down rookie season. He needs to get stronger and he needs to become more ingrained in the scheme and, honestly, there are questions about where the Eagles want to play him in his second season.

Harris could return to cornerback. He might make a very nice slot cover man. The Eagles know that he is an instinctive player who works hard and who has a good upside. He is an interesting player to watch in training camp.

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