- With less than a week to go before camp opens, let's dive into some items on the Eagles' agenda. The NovaCare Complex prepares for camp and the team gets ready to defend its Super Bowl title.
Training Camp launches on July 26 and with it the Eagles pick up where they left off in the spring: Building the best roster possible to compete for the Super Bowl. The goal never changes. The storylines do, but the intent remains the same. This football team is in it to win it all. Again.
"I want a competitive, across-the-board situation that is going to bring out the best in all of our players," head coach Doug Pederson said. "We saw it happening in the spring. I thought we had a great spring, with the exception of the one injury (losing linebacker Paul Worrilow to a season-ending knee injury). Now we have to get right back into it, bring great energy every day, and challenge each other."
We're less than a week out now, people! The first preseason game is on August 9. The regular season opens in 49 days (Thursday, September 6).
Two thousand and eighteen is upon us.
"I'm excited because we have the kind of players in that locker room who are hungry and who want to compete every day," Pederson said. "I saw what I wanted to see in the spring. We came out and played good football and detailed our work."
There are some lingering stories to follow before Thursday arrives, so let's talk about some of them here with, really, the Final Weekend Without Eagles Football in 2018 upon us.
1. Injury Update
Not much to report here. Players who need it are continuing to receive the treatment they need with an eye on being on the field on July 26. Carson Wentz? Don't know. This is going to be a longer process and the reality is that the Eagles don't truly know about Wentz and his return to full-time play until we get a couple of weeks closer to September 6. Wentz has been extremely diligent in his rehabilitation. He's done everything right. It will come down to clearance from the Eagles' medical team. Until then, Nick Foles is the starting quarterback.
As for the other injured players, Pederson wants to get them right for the Falcons. He's likely to monitor Jason Peters, for example, coming back from his knee injury. The left tackle looked great at the end of the spring, but there is no need to wear him down in August. Middle linebacker Jordan Hicks, though, may need to escalate his reps in Training Camp to get his timing back and knock the rust off before the regular season starts. Hicks, making good progress coming back from his Achilles tendon injury, will be an interesting player to watch early in camp. Hicks is being counted on in a huge way to lead the linebackers and spearhead the defense this season.
2. Improving The Roster
So there's not much going on around the league as far as player movement, but that could change in the coming days as camps open for some teams (Baltimore is live) and rosters change. The Eagles are always keeping their eyes open. What positions could they address? Certainly, depth at safety is a question, and for all of the mentions of Corey Graham and the possibility that he could return, he's still out there. Obviously, that could change in a hurry. If the Eagles want to add a veteran safety, they've got the likes of Eric Reid and Tre Boston still out there. And Graham, who played well for the Eagles last season and was a key piece in the Super Bowl.
Another position to keep tabs on is linebacker. The Eagles lost Worrilow, who was expected to compete for playing time on the weak side and at the same time provide veteran depth at all three linebacker positions. Nigel Bradham is suspended for the opening game against Atlanta. The Eagles are banking that Hicks can come all the way back and man the middle linebacker position. Who steps up and provides depth? Who starts at WILL? Linebacker is definitely worth watching.
The rest of the roster is pretty darn strong and deep. Punter, with unproven Cameron Johnston in the lead position to handle the duties, is about the only real question mark, and it appears he is going to have a chance to win the job.
3. The Training Camp Scene
All the tents are set up and the signage is in place and the NovaCare Complex looks absolutely spectacular. Tickets for the two open-to-the-public practices went in a flurry on Wednesday. There is certainly a sense of the "calm before the storm" as the Eagles get ready for a full-on Training Camp experience. It's going to be awesome. The fans are ready for this. The team certainly is.
And now we're only a few days away. Pederson and his football team handled the post-Super Bowl months the right way – easing into the training, making sure players regained their legs and bodies, and aggressively challenging the roster. The Eagles appear to be built for long-term success, but they're certainly taking nothing for granted. They are the hunted team now, and that's just fine.
We're less than a week away from Training Camp and the NovaCare Complex is humming with final preparations being made to greet a new season and defense of a Super Bowl Championship.