With training camp coming to a close yesterday, all eyes point to Friday night’s second preseason matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Eagles are coming in relatively healthy, which has been the biggest highlight of training camp.
There were no torn ACL’s. There were no season ending injuries. With the exception of a few key players battling nagging injuries, the Eagles were fortunate enough to steer clear of the injury bug (for now that is). Now heading into the heart of preseason, the young Eagles team has the ability to flourish and mold into one of the biggest dark horses of the 2010 season. Looking back at training camp, there were a number of players that really proved themselves and earned a spot on the Eagles roster:
I don’t think I have ever been more excited about a rookie class since following the Eagles. Granted the Eagles have 13 draft picks to choose from, but there are a number of youngsters that proved they can run with the big boys. For one, Brandon Graham demonstrated that he can start as a defensive end for the Eagles. He proved all the naysayers wrong that doubted his size and power. In the last few days he has gotten reps on the inside of the line too, illustrating the confidence that Reid and McDermott have in the first round draft pick. Similarly, free safety Nate Allen, who had arguably the most pressure riding on him coming into Lehigh, showed that he can also play with the first team. Considering the Eagles are extremely thin at safety, many were worried that the second-round pick wouldn’t live up to hype and Allen showed, for now, that he is not afraid to back down. Also, safety Kurt Coleman really opened a lot of eyes over the last few weeks. As a seventh-round pick, Coleman was often overlooked coming out of Ohio State. He should have the backup safety spot locked up.
The biggest shock in my perspective came from wide receiver Riley Cooper. All I remember hearing from him as Florida was his size and ability to be a deep threat, but Cooper demonstrated all of training camp that he is as versatile as they come. Not only do I expect him to make the roster, I expect him to be a viable threat as the Eagles fourth receiver. Similar to Cooper, tight end Clay Harbor was arguably the biggest surprise of training camp. Even though Cornelius Ingram is coming off his second torn ACL, he was the big favorite heading into training camp to be a solid second option. Ingram continues to battle injuries and ended camp as one of the biggest disappointments, as Harbor outplayed him and stayed healthy enough to lock up the second spot behind Brent Celek.
2. Stewart Bradley
The fearless Bradley proved that his torn ACL from last season is far behind him. The Eagles finally have a sufficient leader on the defensive side of the ball and an experienced veteran that will be a major threat in the middle of the field. Despite being held out of many practices for precautionary measures, Bradley was in full force every time he stepped on the field. Expect a big season from No. 55 in the middle and finally some consistency from the linebacker position.
3. Mike McGlynn
With Jamaal Jackson out for the first few weeks and Nick Cole sitting out with knee swelling, the third-year offensive lineman Mike McGlynn stepped in for the Eagles and surprised many at one of the weakest positions on the field. Nick Cole had a lot to prove coming into training camp, and his inability to remain healthy left the door open for McGlynn. It’s not even that McGlynn is playing that well, it’s more that he isn’t making too many mistakes. He will start his second straight game on Friday night against Cincinnati.
Now for the biggest busts of training camp:
1. Moise Fokou
Fokou was expected to be the Eagles strong outside linebacker coming into camp and eventually dwindled to the second team taking reps with the linebackers and defensive lineman. He lost his job to a more experienced veteran in Akeem Jordan and will most likely remain on the bench unless someone is injured.
2. Cornelius Ingram/Mike Bell/Nick Cole
All three of these players had the backup/starting positions locked up before they spent most of training camp getting medical attention. The more unfortunate part is that none of their injuries are serious, but are still enough to keep them off the playing field while they watch their positions being taken from them. This is more the case with Ingram who is without question the third string tight end now and who’s only chance to make the 53-man roster is if Reid takes three tight ends. Bell is still expected to be the backup running back for the Eagles due to the lack of depth at the position, but both Eldra Buckley and Martell Mallet are getting reps with the second and third teams as Bell sits out. As I mentioned earlier with Cole, his starting job was in question coming into the season but he was the clear favorite to be the Eagles starting center with Jamaal Jackson still injured. However, his knee continues to keep him on the sidelines as McGlynn makes moves at the starting job.
3. Hank Baskett
With five years of experience in the NFL, it seemed like Baskett was a sure fit as the Eagles fourth wide receiver. Even though it’s a new quarterback and a lot of new faces, it’s still the same system under Andy Reid. Baskett was out-hustled and outplayed by Riley Cooper and Kelly Washington and if it wasn’t for his experience, he would probably not make the team. I’m sure he will still make it as the fifth receiver.
Check out Philly.com Sheil Kapadia’s list of winners and losers from camp.
Notes for Friday night’s game against the Bengals:
-The starters are going to play the first half on Friday night. Kevin Kolb will start, Vick will play the third quarter, and Mike Kafka will finish the game in the fourth quarter.
– Inactive for the game: Nick Cole, Jamaal Jackson, Todd Herremans, David Pender, and Victor Abiamiri
-Asante Samuel (hamstring) and running back Mike Bell (calf) are listed as questionable
-Tight end Cornelius Ingram practiced yesterday and expects to play. Similar story with Macho Harris (hamstring) and Quintin Demps (knee)
-For the Bengals, head coach Marvin Lewis ruled out WR Antonio Bryant (knee), FB Fui Vakapuna (shoulder), WR Robert Geathers (foot), LB Rashad Jeanty (leg), S Tom Nelson (knee) and OT Andrew Mitchell
-A direct quote from Terrell Owens about his new team: “I was just talking to Carson [Palmer] earlier,” Owens said. “This team, this year it really gives me the feeling of when I went to Philly. The talent level on this team, the capabilities of where this team can really go.” It’s always interesting to play against the infamous T.O.