The players have to get acclimated to the system once again, especially those who are new to the team. The coaches have to cut the roster down to 53 players and select their opening day starters. There are some positions where it's obvious who the starter and backups will be, but there are quite a few position battles to decide on in the upcoming weeks. I will quickly go over a few of the more critical position battles going on in training camp.
After trading last season's starter Nick Foles, it seemed pretty clear that the newly acquired Sam Bradford would be the starter at the start of the season. He will most likely be the starter, since he is being paid $13 million this season and he has the highest ceiling of all the quarterbacks on the roster. However, Bradford is known across the league for his lack of durability.
When the Eagles traded for Bradford, he was coming off an ACL tear and might not be ready for the Monday night game vs the Falcons. Sanchez, who started 8 games for the Eagles last season, can be ready to go week 1 if Bradford is still hurt. They also have Tebow.
2. Wide Receiver
With Jeremy Maclin landing in Kansas City, the Eagles have quite a bit of production to make up for this year. Coming into camp, Jordan Matthews is number one on the depth chart after dazzling coaches with his rookie season. Riley Cooper will likely be the number two starter right away because of his veteran status, but rookie Nelson Agholor can overtake him on the depth chart with a strong August showing. It all hinges on which receiver Bradford or Sanchez feel more comfortable with.
New signee Miles Austin and second year receiver Josh Huff should see plenty of time on the field as well.
3. Offensive Line
Jason Peters is locked in, don't you worry. But with Mathis and Herremans gone, there are a few spots available. Allen Barbre should be the starter right away at left guard, but right guard is still up for grabs. It should come down to Matt Tobin or Andrew Gardner there. Gardner has the advantage after replacing Tobin at the end of last season.
The Eagles' secondary was the cause of many fans' agony last year. The front office recognized that and did a complete overhaul for this upcoming season. Out go Cary Williams, Bradley Fletcher, and Brandon Boykin, in come Walter Thurmond II, Byron Maxwell, Eric Rowe, and JaCorey Shepherd. Maxwell, formerly of the Seahawks' legendary secondary, will be the number one starter.
Number two is up for grabs. It was likely to be Boykin, before he was traded over the weekend. Now it comes down to Nolan Carroll and Eric Rowe. Rowe is a large defensive back, 6 foot 1 and 205 pounds, which is ideal for Chip Kelly's system. However, he spent most of his time at Utah as a safety, before switching to and excelling at cornerback his senior season. Rowe could be their cornerback of the future, but the future might not be ready yet.
5. Middle Linebackers
Having too much talent at a position is a good problem to have, and that's exactly the problem the Eagles are facing at middle linebacker. After trading for Kiko Alonso in the McCoy deal, they now have Alonso, Mychal Kendricks, and Demeco Ryans fighting for two spots. Good thing they have a 3-4 defense, or this decision would be much harder to make.
While Alonso is coming off injury, he was the defensive rookie of the year in 2013 and is a monster on the field. Alonso should be the number one middle linebacker heading into camp.
The Eagles could use a timeshare system with Ryans and Kendricks. Ryans is 30 and coming off of an injury himself, but is still useful against the run. Kendricks is much better in passing situations. This should be the way it plays out, but we'll see if Ryans comes back as good as he was before the injury.
By: Dan Goggin
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