Week 2 of the Eagles' Organized Team Activities begins on Tuesday with great expectation and the challenge in front of the newest players on the team: make sure that the long weekend off doesn't diminish the positives of the offseason to date.
While it was important for the rookies to take a breather with Memorial Day off, it's also a test for them to see just how much they retained mentally and how much time they spent during the weekend digging into their X's and O's.
And now we're here. So what are the storylines ahead? Let's take a look.
The Defensive Line And Its Get-Off
The first day of OTAs last week featured an initial look at a defensive line that just exploded off the line of scrimmage. Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Vinny Curry, and Derek Barnett were extremely quick off the edge and played in the offensive backfield throughout practice. Seeing Long with so much energy in his legs was especially encouraging, and both Curry and Barnett played with a tremendous amount of energy.
Inside, the star of the show was Tim Jernigan, who had a dominating day. As the Eagles talked about after making the trade with Baltimore to acquire Jernigan, he plays with terrific zest and relentlessness. Jernigan sets the tone at practice, and envisioning him playing next to Fletcher Cox is exciting.
Bottom line: The Eagles have juice at the line of scrimmage defensively and Jim Schwartz is going to do everything he can to feature the defensive line and benefit from such a talented group.
Who Is Here And Who Isn't?
Some veterans were not present for the first day of OTAs with the media present and, well, as you know, it became a big deal. Will defensive tackle Fletcher Cox be present? How about left tackle Jason Peters? Punter Donnie Jones missed that day as well. Defensive end Marcus Smith was another notable, and curious, player missing.
Phase Three of the offseason is voluntary throughout the NFL. The Eagles conduct a mandatory minicamp from June 13 to June 15
Another Week In For The Cornerbacks
The Eagles lined up Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson as the starters last week, with Rasul Douglas as the third outside cornerback (Mills went inside in nickel). Ron Brooks, recovering from his quadriceps injury from last season, did not participate in 11-on-11 drills.
It is an open competition and the Eagles need to establish some order of a depth chart, a process likely not to be finished until the team is deep into the summer. There is no press coverage at this point in the offseason and the contact is minimal, so it's difficult to get an assessment now.
The Eagles are encouraging competition and tenacity at the position. It's a very young group. It's, obviously, a work in progress. Another week offers more of an understanding of exactly what the Eagles are working with at cornerback.
appeared to be improved last week with the media watching, and Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith opened as the starters when OTAs began, but that one day – and really, the entire first week – was just a snapshot. To really win over the coaching staff and the trust of quarterback Carson Wentz, the receiving corps needs to play with great consistency.
And while we are far away from factoring in the numbers when the team ultimately reduces its roster to 53 players, it's still worth noting: The Eagles have added four receivers of note to the roster with Jeffery and Smith and draft picks Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson. Add in Jordan Matthews, who has been the most productive of the holdover receivers and you see where the competition comes into play. Where does Agholor factor into the equation? How about Dorial Green-Beckham? Paul Turner? Bryce Treggs? All of them were on the roster last season. None of them are guaranteed a thing for 2017.
Watching The Rookie Class
Much of the attraction of watching these early practices is making eye contact with the rookie class to judge its progress. Barnett stood out last week with his burst off the line of scrimmage. Douglas looked the part at cornerback learning his craft at the NFL level. Running back Donnel Pumphrey is extremely quick and will be tough to tackle in the open field.
But what else can you see? Well, there is no tackling and the contact is controlled, so …
Welcome to Week 2 of the OTAs. As always there is a lot to see with the players ready to get out on the field and resume their practice sessions.