Philadelphia Eagles 2013 Training Camp Preview
Philadelphia Eagles 2013 Training Camp Preview
One thing for certain is that Kelly's camp won't be as hard-hitting and pad-laden as those under Andy Reid in the past.
"There's a certain amount of work that you've got to get done that you can't go full-go every single day," said Kelly, via USA Today Sports. "You still have to be cognizant of the fact that you have to prepare for a season and prepare for games. And that's the big Catch-22 for all coaches is how much work do you need to get done but also you don't want to injure your own players in practice. That's kind of a fine line. It's the toughest one I think coaches have to handle."
Philly tailspinned down the stretch last season and were repeatedly steam-rolled in run defense, showing almost no physicality near the line of scrimmage in November and December. It will be interesting to see how this effects the defensive side of the ball as the regular season progresses. New defensive coordinator Bill Davis is running the show and calls for a switch to more 3-4 concepts, meaning all new position battles and depth-chart questions are springing up.
Then of course there's arguably the league's most-high profile quarterback competition, as Eagles training camp commences.
Kelly's collegiate success with scheme that uses a lot of up-tempo, read-option spread concepts could translate well to the NFL with a quarterback of Michael Vick's ilk. The athleticism is certainly there, but the decision-making would need to be more like 2010 than the past couple years. Matt Barkley and Nick Foles also battle with realistic shots, and rookie GJ Kinne and Dennis Dixon are in the mix as well.
One area the Eagles did manage to click last year was in the running game, where the line opened holes down the stretch and Bryce Brown really took advantage. A healthy LeSean McCoy will retake the starting role but this is a loaded stable as Brown, Felix Jones and Chris Polk figure to share the additional snaps. Who gets the most will likely be determined in camp and preseason. James Casey comes over from Houston to fill the H-Back role.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin will probably hold down the top two receiver spots once again, unless D-Jax makes any more comments about the quarterback competition. Arrelious Benn and Greg Salas come off as cheap free agent additions to battle incumbents Jason Avant, Riley Cooper and Damaris Johnson for playing time. Kelly and Co. took Zach Ertz early in April's draft to join Brent Celek at the top of the tight end depth chart.
Philly completed the early run on offensive tackles in this draft by taking Lane Johnson fourth overall. He's the type of athletic right tackle perfect for Kelly's scheme. The Eagles boast the league's best left side if Jason Peters returns to form alongside guard Evan Mathis. Todd Herremans bumps inside to right guard and Jason Kelce comes back from injury to man the center spot. This line could truly go from abysmalin 2012 to elite in 2013.
Davis'ostensible switch to a 3-4 base defense makes the front-seven quite murky. Fletcher Cox and Isaac Sopoaga seem like they'll be fitted for end and nose respectively, though Sopoaga has never proved himself good at it. I assume Philly will vacillate between different fronts, making a versatile piece like rookie Bennie Logan extremely valuable here. Cedric Thornton, Vinny Curry and Clifton Geathers are also frontrunners for a spot in the rotation.
Second-year LB Mychal Kendricks will jump from outside to inside backer, alongside veteran DeMeco Ryans. Brandon Graham harrassed quarterbacks as well as anyone in the league last year as a 4-3 defensive end, but must now either win out as a 3-4 end (highly unlikely) or OLB. The latter would require him to beat either Trent Cole or free-agent Connor Barwin, though it's hard to see Graham not at least factoring heavily into the rotation on passing downs.
The Eagles have gotten miserable play from their safety spot since Quintin Mikell left, and overhauled the starting unit with free agents Patrick Chung and Kenny Phillips. This area still remains a major question mark, as Phillips has always struggled with injury and Chung has always just struggled. They could see competition from incumbents Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen along with Earl Wolff.
The top two corner spots were wiped out too, now filled by free agents Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. Both players have trended upward and are in their prime. Second-year CB Brandon Boykin mans the slot.
Philly's special teams unit has its key spots seemingly locked down in Philly with Boykin returning kicks, Johnson on punts, free agent Donnie Jones doing the punting and Alex Henery retaining the place-kicking duties.