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Who Makes Most Of This Camp?

The questions come fast and furious to @DaveSpadaro (thanks for signing up, and if you haven't, please do ...) and, truth be told, some of them are simply too premature.

You want to know what is going on at this Rookie Camp as it winds into the final day, and, hey, so far it's been good. The practices are fast and full of energy. The players are eager students for a coaching staff that enjoys the teaching part of the job.

There are some players who have obvious physical advantages over others. There is no receiver here, for example, in the class of Damaris Johnson, the Mighty Mite who at 5 feet 8 and 175 pounds needs every bit of his elusiveness to avoid cornerbacks who intend on pressing him into the ground.

Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry, it is easy to notice, have physical gifts that set them apart from the rest of the defensive linemen here. There is a reason both players were high-round draft picks.

Tight end Brett Brackett, who had a chance to learn the offense last season while he was a member of the Eagles' practice squad, looks like a fluid athlete who catches the football with confidence and he might, just might, challenge Clay Harbor for a roster spot this season. At this camp, Brackett is clearly superior to Chase Ford, a non-drafted rookie from the University of Miami still in the infant stage of his knowledge of the offense.

Linebacker Mychal Kendricks and cornerback Brandon Boykin have made a lot of plays, have buzzed around the football for two days. They are opening eyes with the tempo of their performances.

The coaches have learned a lot about each of the 44 players at the NovaCare Complex. They know, for example, which of these players just don't have the physical tools to make it in the NFL. No matter how hard the players work, or how smart and instinctive they are, if they can't keep up sideline to sideline, the very large chances are that the player isn't going to make it.

The coaches know which players can retain the enormously large volume of information and then play fast and get to the right spots at the right time.

What nobody knows is how much different a player will perform when he puts on the pads and the contact is live and the action is fast. Some players react in a more positive fashion. Some who flash at camps like this are never heard from again.

"You have to excel every rep you get out there," said Johnson, an all-purpose threat at Tulsa who had off-the-field problems last year that cost him any chance of being drafted. "Everything is precise. You have to be perfect. There is no way you can ever let up. You have to be on top of your playbook at all times."

After the five practices are complete, the coaches will grade every player and continue their position evaluation.  General manager Howie Roseman will consider his 90-man roster. He will adjust accordingly.

The Eagles are getting a good look at the 44-player Rookie Camp and are taking very detailed notes. Who has the advantage here? Those players with superior athletic skills stand out on the tape. Those who understand the X's and O's they are being fed have a fighting chance.

But there are no final grades being assigned. When someone on Twitter asks me if I think Fletcher Cox is going to start, I tell him "No." I haven't seen enough to think that Cox, no matter how well he plays at this camp, can unseat established NFL veterans like Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson.

What these kids did in college doesn't matter right now. What they are doing on tape tells the whole story, even if the truth hurts.


  • A couple of Kendricks snapshots, because I know you want to know everything about the guy: He has shown the ability to come off the edge and blitz and, in these drills, is extremely good at it. I could see the Eagles working with him in that phase of the defense. In coverage in his first four practices, Kendricks has been outstanding. He is very, very fast and appears to get it mentally, at least so far. The Eagles are going to give Kendricks every chance to earn major playing time.
  • Defensive end Maurice Fountain, at age 29 the oldest player in this camp, went down in Sunday afternoon's practice and was carted off the field. It could be a serious injury.
  • I would say that, of the players invited to try out, Temple defensive back Kee-Ayre Griffin and Syracuse safety Phillip Thomas have had their moments most of all the group. But I hesitate to say too much, because I don't watch the practice tapes.
  • I did spend time on Sunday watching cornerback Cliff Harris, who could use some muscle and weight, but who has terrific technique and athletic ability. He is an explosive player, no question about that.  At least in a helmet and shorts.
  • Brackett has a long way to go before he pushes Harbor, but the former Penn State wide receiver, a quarterback in college, has played well in this camp. Good hands and he runs well and looks like he is one of those tight ends who could be displaced in the offense and create some matchup problems.
  • Both quarterbacks, Nick Foles and Jacory Harris, are throwing the ball fine, having their good moments and their not-so-good moments and are receiving valuable instruction on the side from the coaching staff. I watched Doug Pederson work with both during special teams practice on their footwork and timing. It doesn't happen overnight.
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