Position battles the main storyline as Eagles open training camp next week - Metro US

Position battles the main storyline as Eagles open training camp next week

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Training camp, and by extension the pre-season, the regular season, the playoffs and the 2016 Super Bowl –are just around the corner.

But before all that can happen, some of the position battle still need to be ironed out.The Eagles arethe NFL team that saw the most turnover this off-season, and because of this, many starting jobs are up for grabs.


This is the most obvious one, though it’s still open for debate as towhether it is a battle or not.Chip Kelly says it is and Mark Sanchez believes it is, but it’ll be hard to feel good about trading Nick Foles and a second rounder for Sam Bradford if he opens the season as a backup.

That alone has to give Bradford an edge if the players’ training camp performance is roughly equal. For that reason, training camp is huge for Bradford, who has been limited throughout OTAs and June minicamp.

Meanwhile, Sanchez has spent those workouts taking reps with the first team, leading teammate workouts in California and showing general improvement in his second year in Chip’s system.

Wide Receiver

Jordan Matthews has to be considered a lock to at least keep his hold on the slot job after turning in one of the best rookie seasons by an Eagles’ wide receiver ever.More time on the outside could be available for Matthews as well, but there he’ll run into a bunch of receivers seeking the same playing time.

Given the ability he’s shown just through summer camps, and the relative talent around him, rookie first round pick Nelson Agholor has to be a favorite to also play his way to a starting role this pre-season.

So we’ve got one spot in a three receiver field left to fill, and Josh Huff, Miles Austin and Riley Cooper vying to fill it.Austin may be the least likely.He had his heyday with the Dallas Cowboys, but injuries have taken their toll.Still, if Kelly’s program can keep those injuries at bay, Austin is the most accomplished wide receiver on the Eagles roster.

Huff is entering his second year after a largely frustrating rookie season.The high was a 107-yard kickoff return touchdown.The lows included red zone turnovers, drops, and a season that ended with 8 catches.The Eagles continue to have a lot of hope in their third round selection however, and perhaps a big stride could be taken this off-season.

Riley Cooper’s ability to block is of course, world-renowned.

Offensive Line

The man set to replace Todd Herremans seemed pretty concrete: Allen Barbre.But now it looks like he’ll be playing on the right side to replace Evan Mathis, and that opens up the door for a competition at left guard.

One of the early favorites is Matt Tobin, an undrafted free agent from Iowa signed in 2013.Tobin started seven games for the Eagles in 2014, though he was eventually replaced at right guard by another contender for the starting job this off-season: Andrew Gardner.

Gardner had played a total of eight games in four seasons in the NFL before joining the Eagles and playing in all 16 last season.He started eight for the Birds, playing at both right tackle and right guard, where he looked more comfortable.

The wild card is recently signed free agent John Moffitt. Moffitt, 28, had been out of the NFL since retiring in 2013.

Inside Linebacker

This is one position battle that’s a good problem, not a bad one.It’s arisen because the Eagles have too much talent at the position, as Kiko Alonso arrives to join Demeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks.

Alonso, despite missing last season with an injury, turned heads as a rookie in 2013 with 159 tackles and four interceptions.

Ryans just signed a contract extension this off-season, showing the Eagles have no signs of phasing him out despite his age (31) and an achilles injury he suffered last season.

Kendricks is perhaps the odd man out.While seemingly a rising young star at the position, it’s unclear how much the Eagles value him.He has yet to sign an extension with the team, when his rookie deal ends after this season, and the team was reportedly shopping him around prior to the draft.


The battle to replace Nate Allen may not quite be what every Eagles fan was hoping for as the 2015 off-season got underway.The Eagles made no additions at safety during free agency and, if the three cornerbacks they drafted remain cornerbacks (and it seems, at the very least, Eric Rowe will) no additions there during the draft either.

The new favorite to start across from Malcolm Jenkins did wind up being a free agent signing after all: converted slot cornerback Walter Thurmond.Thurmond has taken most of the first team snaps so far this summer.

Earl Wolfe, whom many would have expected to see compete for the job, has had trouble getting on the field this summer, to the point where he has drawn Kelly’s ire, never a good sign.

It appears as though it’s Thurmond’s job to lose at this point, though a good run from Wolffe or perhaps another converted corner, Jaylen Watkins, could earn some playing time.

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