We're getting closer … it's time to start feeling football. And with that, let's talk about some of the items on the agenda for the Philadelphia Eagles and, well, how it's shaping up for Training Camp 2020 …
1. Let's begin with the virtual offseason backward, so we'll begin in the past. The Eagles named the "winners" of the offseason program, broken up in positional categories. They are: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Rob Davis, competing in the position groups including wide receivers, defensive backs, and running backs. Among the defensive linemen, the winners were Bruce Hector and Genard Avery. Among the offensive linemen, tackle Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce took the honors, and in the Big Skill group comprised of quarterbacks, linebackers, tight ends, and specialists, linebacker Alex Singleton and tight end Zach Ertz were the winners. So, there's that.
2. Quarterback Carson Wentz is primed for a big season as the Eagles have built around him, particularly adding to the wide receiver position with three draft picks and the acquisition of veteran Marquise Goodwin. He's had quite an eventful and impressive offseason as well after recovering from the concussion suffered in the playoff loss against Seattle. He's become a father, he's invested in the community reaching out to those impacted by COVID-19, he immediately showed his class and leadership when the Eagles made quarterback Jalen Hurts a second-round draft pick, and Wentz addressed the team in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
"It seems like a lot on somebody's plate, to handle all of that," Head Coach Doug Pederson said. "For us, for me, it just shows the type of person that Carson Wentz is and how deeply he cares not only for his family but also for his brothers on the Philadelphia Eagles and his extended family that way. That's what you want from your leader, the face of the franchise. You want him to do this. You want him to step up and embrace it and he has, along with many other members of the team. But, specifically, Carson and what he has done, it just shows the type of person that he is and the type of character that he has, the leadership, how he leads this football team not only on the field but off the field. It's just a breath of fresh air."
3. The team fined wide receiver DeSean Jackson for "conduct detrimental to the team" after Jackson's Instagram post early last week and the organization's review of the post and several conversations with Jackson. A large part of the agreement is that Jackson invests in learning about anti-Semitism and racial and religious equality. Said the Eagles in the statement issued on Friday: "He accepted these consequences and apologized. In our many conversations with him, it has also been made clear that this is only the beginning. We have discussed a concrete plan for how we and he can heal moving forward. He understands that in order to remain on the team, he must also commit to supporting his words with actions. We have been encouraged by his desire to educate himself, but we all understand that there is still a lot of work to be done. We will continue to assist DeSean in this process, and we also know that all of us in our organization need to listen and learn more about things that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable to us."
For his part, Jackson posted on Instagram over the weekend, "Today I had an opportunity to speak with 94 year old holocaust survivor Mr. Edward Mosberg. Thank you Mr. Mosberg for your valuable time and insight today . Im taking this time to continue with educating myself and bridging the gap between different cultures, communities & religions. LOVE 2 ALL!!!!! TO BE CONTINUED."
It's a good start and, look, it's important to be educated and to admit mistakes and make the most of a second chance. That is Jackson's chore.
4. In case you missed it, the Eagles announced that wide receiver Quez Watkins signed his rookie contract as the team works on all 10 draft picks. Two are signed now (Prince Tega Wanogho previously inked his rookie deal), and if history serves as an indicator, the Eagles will have all of their selections signed before the rookies step on the field in a matter of days/weeks.
That last part is what we really don't know. There is no set-in-stone reporting date as the league and the players union meet this week to agree to protocols at team facilities and for the preseason. So, yes, there is still work to be done at the league level. Seventh-round draft pick Casey Toohill echoes what every young player is thinking as the waits for the call to report to Philadelphia.
"I've been excited to get to Philadelphia ever since the draft happened," he said as a guest on Monday’s Eagles Insider Podcast. "I was ready to go. There were a lot of extenuating circumstances with everything in the world, not just football. The sooner, the better. I want to get going. I want to start learning, start competing and just get out there."
Listen to the entire interview, along with a great interview with Ross Tucker, the color analyst for the Eagles' preseason television broadcasts.