Many Philadelphia Eagles fans and observers hoped, upon the Birds selecting Earl Wolff in the fifth round of April’s NFL draft, that the team’s game of Russian Roulette at the safety position had finally come to a merciful end.
While it remains to be seen if Wolff can develop into a steady contributor at the NFL level, the North Carolina State product saw extensive action with the first-team defense during Friday’s training camp practice at the Novacare Complex.
“This is a great spot here and my goal is to take advantage of every opportunity that I can get,” Wolff said earlier this week. “My goal is to be perfect, and I know that I’m not going to be, but I want to take advantage of every rep that I get. And just get better every day.
While being perfect may be an unreasonable goal for anyone to achieve, Wolff certainly has to fill the sizable void that has opened up in the four years since Brian Dawkins signed with the Denver Broncos on March 1, 2009. The 6-foot, 207-pound enforcer has all of the tools to become a physical presence in the Eagles’ defensive backfield; but as is the case with any rookie, it takes time before they can run, let alone walk at this level.
“It’s all about hard work,” he explained. “It’s why I come back after practice every day. It’s hard work that got me here. There some jobs open here, and everyone is very open for competition … It’s all about competing and the best man gets the job.”
The Eagles inked free agent Patrick Chung in the offseason, but he has yet to do anything which stands out during practice, which has perhaps led to the door being cracked open for Wolff, whose mother hails from North Philadelphia. Likewise, Kenny Phillips has struggled to stay healthy during the spring and hasn’t established himself as a starting safety on this team as of yet.
The door is open for Wolff, who looked on Friday like he belongs. However, as is the case with the Eagles’ quarterback battle and numerous other competitions taking place across Chip Kelly‘s depth chart, it will be the preseason games that wind up as final exams and it’s there where decisions will be made.
Matt Lombardo is also a sports radio host on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. Join the conversation and follow him on Twitter.
-All quotes obtained first hand.