Emerging from a mass of very large humans are some players who have distinguished themselves this summer at Eagles Training Camp 2020 at the NovaCare Complex and, frankly, given the coaching staff something to think about as the roster cut to 53 looms (Saturday, 4 PM) Beyond that, there's an (up-to) 16-man practice squad to consider. And then an "emergency" list that, you know, happens in an emergency situation, which we've seen quite a bit of around here these last few seasons.
Anyway, some players you might not have considered have gained some trust from the coaching staff and have put themselves in position for strong roster consideration, and even beyond that. Despite no preseason games and only two scrimmages with tackling-to-the-ground drills, these players have made the most of every rep …
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR
A six-hour-per-day workout routine has paid off for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in his second season. He is much more explosive and confident and he has had a good chemistry with quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles may need a lot out of Arcega-Whiteside with both Reagor (week to week with an upper-body injury) and Alshon Jeffery (on the PUP list) still not practicing.
Shaun Bradley, LB
The rookie from Temple has been around the football a lot this summer. Shaun Bradley could be a four-teams player on special teams, at the very least. He also may work himself into some reps at linebacker. He's tough and fearless and the Eagles need that kind of physical play on defense.
Corey Clement, RB
In the best shape of his life and knowing he's in a bit of a career-crossroads moment, Corey Clement is having a solid summer. He's running hard, he's catching the football, and, most important, he's largely been healthy and spry. Clement, in his fourth season, is the most experienced running back the Eagles have. That says a whole lot about a group that doesn't think there is anything wrong with being young.
T.J. Edwards, LB
He looks like the leader of the linebackers, along with Nathan Gerry. T.J. Edwards has command of the defense and he's been around the football throughout the summer. With such a limited amount of hitting, it's tough to know for sure, but Edwards looks like he's ready to play a key role in the defense.
John Hightower, WR
A big-play machine for two seasons at Boise State, John Hightower has done more of the same in this camp. He runs well, he's caught the ball well … he just looks like he fits in this offense. Not once has Hightower been wowed by the stage. Everyone watched No. 1 pick Jalen Reagor and monitored his progress day to day – and he was very, very good until suffering an upper-body injury on Sunday – and Hightower just kept doing his thing every day. Credit goes to the player, of course, and to the wide receiver coaches – Aaron Moorehead, Matthew Harper, and coaching intern Jason Avant. They've all done a nice job bringing a young receiving corps along.
"The key is to just go out and have fun and not let the pressure get to you," Hightower said. "I'm having fun. Day by day. I'm just going out there and playing football and listening to my coaches."
Elijah Holyfield, RB
He runs angry. He's violent. He's agitated. Elijah Holyfield, plucked from Carolina's practice squad prior to the Eagles' postseason game in 2019, arrived at Training Camp in great shape and intent on impressing the coaching staff. He has certainly done that. Holyfield runs hard, is a capable and willing blocker, and has a lot more "wiggle" in his game than you might think. He looks the part. He's played the part. As the Eagles near the regular season with a young backfield, Holyfield has been outstanding and he could be in for a decent role in the offense and, certainly, on special teams.
DeSean Jackson, WR
Keep DeSean Jackson healthy, whatever it takes. He's faster than anyone on the field and he tracks the football as well as any receiver in the game. Jackson has matched up against Slay throughout the summer, an entertaining one-on-one battle to observe. The vertical passing game is legit dangerous as long as No. 10 is on the field. He looks as good as he's always looked.
Malik Jackson, DT
Not too long ago, Malik Jackson was one of the NFL's best interior defensive linemen. The injury he suffered in Week 1 last season shelved Jackson and cast some doubt on his future. But he's come back and shown force inside for the Eagles. Jackson looks powerful and disruptive. The true test comes in the regular season, of course, but Jackson has had an encouraging Training Camp.
Shareef Miller, DE
Much improved. Shareef Miller is in good shape, he's stronger, and he is clearly more confident in Year 2. As the Eagles look for more defensive end depth to emerge, the 2019 fourth-round draft pick has shown up. His performance gives you the sense that the best is yet to come from a player who left Penn State one season early.
Nickell Robey-Coleman, CB
An underrated signing in free agency, Nickell Robey-Coleman has the kind of solid game that teams look for in their nickel cornerback. He isn't going to back down and he has the athletic ability to match up at what truly is a starting spot. Robey-Coleman is one of the key additions that is going to help upgrade the Eagles' secondary, a group that gave up too many big plays a season ago.
Darius Slay, CB
Just a quick note here on Darius Slay: He's the real deal. The Eagles traded for a cornerback who they could put on opposing No. 1 receivers and that's what they have in Slay, who has great closing ability and is strong and who plays with absolutely no fear. He's going to be a blast to watch.
Nate Sudfeld, QB
Nate Sudfeld took a lot of reps with the starters on Sunday with Wentz sidelined (as did Jalen Hurts) and Sudfeld really needed that time with the ones. He was able to let loose a little bit and find some targets and get the ball down the field. We all hope that Wentz stays on the field for every snap this season, but they also know they must make sure Sudfeld is ready to go. He should be in good shape if the need arises.
The TE Group
With all that said about Jackson, make no mistake that the offense runs through the tight ends, specifically Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. You're going to see a lot of two-tight end sets, and maybe even three-tight end sets, as the Eagles work through their offensive line uncertainties. This group does it all.