Let me back up for just a moment, first. I am about to write down some names of kids who have caught my eye, and who I have talked about with people who really know (scouts, coaches, etc) based on all of two practices with pads on. Things always change dramatically. We have a long way to go before August 9 and the preseason opener against Pittsburgh, much less September 9 and the regular season opener in Cleveland.
My list of eye openers in Eagles Training Camp, 2012 …
Marvin McNutt, WR
Riley Cooper's broken collarbone gives Marvin McNutt more practice reps and he has taken advantage of them in the last two days. McNutt didn't look especially quick and wasn't creating much separation in the spring practices at the NovaCare Complex, but he has opened up his game at Lehigh. McNutt clearly has more confidence and is playing well.
Before we get too caught up, McNutt has to play at the same high level for weeks to come. The mark of a reliable player at this level is to string together success on a consistent basis. He's off to a strong start in training camp and his confidence will grow with more reps.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB
This is what the Eagles hoped they would see from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the starting cornerback opposite Nnamdi Asomugha. Rodgers-Cromartie has been sensational in coverage, deftly breaking up passes and showing his closing skills and tremendous athletic ability. With those long arms, that great speed and a game that has been up to snuff all spring and summer, Rodgers-Cromartie appears to be in line to play the best football of his career.
Brandon Graham, DE
The message has certainly gotten through to Brandon Graham: Play well or maybe you will not make this 53-man roster. Graham has been terrific, dominating, outstanding. He has more quickness and explosiveness than at any time in his first two NFL seasons. He is playing with a purpose, not to mention a gigantic chip on his shoulder. Graham is taking first-team reps at left end with Jason Babin (calf strain) sidelined and he is not disappointing anybody.
LeSean McCoy, RB
It should come as no surprise that LeSean McCoy is having a great training camp. He is as elusive as ever, appears to have gained some strength in his upper body and has the kind of love of the game that is so apparent when he is on the field.
McCoy is one of the best in the league, and if you thought a new contract would dull his quest to be great, forget it. Shady gets it. He is awesome out here.
Cedric Thornton, DT
He's caught my eye, for sure. Cedric Thornton spent last season on the Eagles' practice squad and looks stronger, quicker and more explosive this year. Thornton isn't a lock to make the roster – the Eagles figure to keep five tackles, and they have a deep roster of talent here – but he is giving the coaching staff something to think about.
Vinny Curry, DE
I like how Vinny Curry approaches the game. He has a mature understanding of playing and playing well at this level and he has done a good job showing up early in the camp. Curry seems explosive off the edge and he has shown a good inside move, too. Curry has a lot to learn, but he has the ability. That much is very obvious.
Dion Lewis, RB
Almost every carry in training camp has been a big gain for the explosive Dion Lewis, who looks so much more complete this year. He is finishing off his runs and has great quickness and moves to and through the hole. Lewis runs hard and is a fine complement to McCoy. He is a much-improved running back from his rookie season.
Jaiquawn Jarrett, S
Locked in a battle for a roster spot, Jaiquawn Jarrett showed up on Sunday with a couple of big hits and another that forced the football loose from McCoy. Jarrett is running with the second-team secondary and knows that he has to make a big impression.
Demetress Bell, LT
An athletic linemen, the kind Howard Mudd likes to work with, Demetress Bell has the feet to get to the edge and the long arms and strength to hold his leverage inside. Bell isn't Jason Peters, but he has a lot of ability and the work ethic to play his best football in 2012. Plus, working against Trent Cole every day in practice helps. The two have a lot of memorable battles ahead in training camp.
Fletcher Cox, DT
It was good to see Fletcher Cox working with the first team taking reps as the Eagles slid Cullen Jenkins to the left end position. Cox has a lot of power and push inside and he has some get-off from the line of scrimmage. The inside word is that Cox is progressing wonderfully and that he has a chance to make an impact in his rookie season. Cox is a hard-working kid who understands the big picture. The Eagles have a good one here.
Chad Hall, WR
I think some Eagles fans don't give Chad Hall the respect he deserves. If you watch practice every day, you see why Hall has played for two seasons here. He gets open, he runs perfect routes and he catches everything. Hall can line up in multiple positions and help the Eagles gain a favorable matchup. Will Hall make the team? We shall see. Both Hall and rookie Damaris Johnson seem to be cut from the same cloth and both are expected to battle for a roster position.
Bryce Brown, RB
Four straight times the Eagles handed the ball off to Bryce Brown in third-and-short situations on Sunday as the third-team offense battled the third-team defense and each time Brown delivered with positive yardage. He ran hard, he punished defenders and he showed speed to and through the hole.
Brown has shown soft hands as a receiver since he joined the team, and on Sunday he looked to be a willing and physical blocker in pass-protection drills. Brown seems to have an edge on Chris Polk in the competition for the third running back position, but there is a lot of camp and four preseason games to go before the roster is finalized.