First, the roster turnover has to slow down, doesn't it? The Eagles had a staggering number of transactions on Thursday -- they signed four defensive tackles, placed defensive lineman Victor Abiamiri on Injured Reserve (torn Achilles tendon), put defensive end Ricky Sapp on the Reserve/Left Squad list and released wide receiver Jeremy LaFrance -- and, certainly, there is more to come.
Let's talk ...
- Abiamiri's injury is the latest blow to a career that has been held back by injuries. He is on Injured Reserve and, unfortunately, this is going to be an injury that will be very difficult to overcome. Best of luck to Abiamiri, a high-quality young man who just couldn't stay healthy enough to show how good he is.
- Sapp's decision to leave the team is a disappointment, if he left for good. Is it because he doesn't have the fire to fight to make this team? I don't know the reason he left. I know that he is not here, and I get the idea very clearly that if you walk out on Jim Washburn, you don't have much of a chance of returning.
- How can the Eagles count on Mike Patterson playing in 2011? What is truly important is that Patterson gets great care and returns to full health. Football is secondary. Now, the Eagles have to look for ways to fill his absence. Anthony Hargrove has been a quality player in his NFL career. He is the leading candidate to fill in, with Cullen Jenkins and Antonio Dixon the starters from this perspective. Trevor Laws has to step up, and rookie Cedric Thornton has a chance to make a move. I like what I've seen from him.
- With Vince Young now on the practice field, reps for Mike Kafka will go way, way down. He will run the third-team offense. Kafka had an excellent day on Thursday, his best yet. He threw the ball with zip and accuracy. As for rookie Jarrod Johnson, I don't see how he can get much work at all unless the Eagles try to get him some work in the preseason. I can't imagine Young playing in that game, and I am guessing that Michael Vick will get very little time against Baltimore.
- The wide receiver picture needs to clear. DeSean Jackson remains a no-show and there is no word on when he plans to return. Jeremy Maclin is at Leigh University, but has yet to practice. What is the plan with Maclin? Both Riley Cooper and Jason Avant have benefitted from the reps in practice and both have looked really good. Sinorice Moss has had an excellent camp. Johnnie Lee Higgins is excited to show what he can do in the offense. But the offense isn't the same without the starters at wide receiver.
- I wonder how long Howard Mudd will experiment with the offensive line. Other than left tackle (Jason Peters) and left guard (Todd Herremans), Mudd has rotated players in the starting lineup. Who is the starter at center? I thought it was Jamaal Jackson, but all of a sudden Jason Kelce gets first-team reps. Danny Watkins is in at right guard, but he has a lot to learn. Right tackle? It is wide, wide open. Ryan Harris is going to have a chance to move into the first-team spot very quickly.
- Here is a player I like, actually two: Rookie running backs Graig Cooper and Derrick Locke. Cooper is more of a power back and Locke is more of a speed player, and both have looked good.
- I know you have a lot of questions about middle linebacker, and I think that's fair. Every day that goes by with Casey Matthews in the middle convinces me more that the Eagles really, really want to see what he can do as a starter. With Jamar Chaney on the strong side and Moise Fokou on the weak side, the Eagles are extremely young. Coach Mike Caldwell has a lot to sort through.
- A big question, of course, is how the Eagles are going to line up their cornerbacks when Nnamdi Asomugah takes the field. Who starts? Who is the nickel cornerback? Oh, the drama ...
- The Eagles reportedly have about $4 million in room under the salary cap and they have enough wiggle room elsewhere to clear some space. As Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Lurie said in his excellent State of the Team address on Thursday, the Eagles can still make some moves. Will they?
- I am going to say this, based on what I have seen in practice: Running back LeSean McCoy may be the best player on this team. He is having a tremendous camp, running with decisiveness, power, speed. The third-year back has a chance to have a special, special season. He is a standout.
- How will things shake out at tight end? What are the plans with Donald Lee, and what does his presence mean for Brent Celek and Clay Harbor? Maybe nothing, in the long run. But when the Eagles sign a player on the first day of free agency, they clearly have a plan in place to use him.