Resident Eagles expert Kulp has broken down some of the key training camp battles to keep an eye on starting next week. Enjoy.
It’s July, and that means football season is right around the corner.
Soon enough, Andy Reid will be forced to break the hearts of 26 young
men and Jerome McDougle, and he’ll do it after they’ve spent about
three grueling weeks living in the dorms of a small university in
Bethlehem, PA. I’d still rather be training camp retread Michael
Gasperson than the poor saps that visit Eagles Training Camp like it’s
really something to see.
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are always some roster spots to be won and starting jobs to be lost, so
I’ve highlighted three of the more high profile competitions, and six
more for some filler.
Greg Lewis v. Hank Baskett
G-Lew beat the odds and make it to his sixth season wearing midnight
green? Will Hank Baskett become a dangerous red zone threat? Ha ha, no.
You were probably expecting DeSean Jackson here, but he instantly
becomes the primary slot receiver if he can only pull his head out of
his ass. The real question with this set of receivers is who sticks on
the upgraded punt coverage unit. Jason Avant is almost a lock as he
moonlights in a possession receiver role, which means one of Philly's
least favorite sons is about to go. In a minor upset, I say they are
both out in favor of Bam Childress.
Correll Buckhalter v. Tony Hunt
initially thought the addition of Lorenzo Booker meant the end for
Buck. Now I'm not sure it isn’t young Tony Hunt getting shown the door.
Last season, he underwhelmed the coaching staff to the point where he
was banished from the field on gamedays. Maybe it was his
look-the-other-way method of blitz pickup. On the other hand, Buck has
managed to stay healthy the past two seasons, and he's been fairly
effective with limited touches. His versatility (FB, KR) probably earns
him a roster spot as a situational running back. The Eagles have never
seemed interested in using a short-yardage back, but they may keep Hunt
if they carry four backs.
Jason Davis v. Luke Lawton
players will likely stick to one-back sets the first few weeks after
the game ships, because Dan Klecko will be the only fullback on the
roster (rating: 66!). This battle became a lot less interesting after
the converted D-tackle was taken out of the running, but the Eagles
appear desperate to replace Davis. They actually traded to acquire
Lawton, a subtle nod that he’s probably their guy. I hear his other
skills include long snapping, so Jon Dorenbos better watch his back too.
Sean Considine v. Quintin Mikell
news might make some people sick to the stomach, but Sean Considine is
going to get one more shot at this, simply because there is always some
excuse for his poor tackling. First, he wasn’t able to lift weights
after shoulder surgery. Last season, it was because the shoulder never
healed properly. Hopefully special teams captain Quintin Mikell gets a
fair chance to win the job, otherwise Considine can look forward to
being the Carlos Ruiz of the Eagles defense when he really should be
looking for work.
Matt Schobel v. Brent Celek v. Kris Wilson
Schobel is another guy I assumed couldn't make the team, but he's going
to Lehigh anyway. Here's an interesting statistic: Schobel's reception
totals have declined every season since his rookie year in 2002, this
despite the fact that he started six games in 2007, and according to
Pro Football Prospectus, the Eagles throw from the two tight end set
more than any other team. Unless there is a team REALLY desperate for a
tight end (looking at you, Buffalo), that trend should culminate in
2008 when he finally catches zero passes, ending six years of futility.
Now Kris Wilson attempts to live his dreams of playing tight end in the
NFL, something he didn't quite get to do with the Chiefs. Not to worry,
because if you don't beat Brent Celek, we're still looking for a
Darren Howard v. the field
not always easy to spot a defensive end who has outlasted his
usefulness, but one indication is when the player comes up with more
pass deflections than sacks. That was exactly the case for Howard last
season, and he returns slimmed down and ready to attempt another go
with the Eagles. He actually should have considered gaining weight and
trying to make the team as a defensive tackle, because it would be much
easier beating out Kimo von Oelhoffen for a roster spot than the
combination of Chris Clemons, Juqua ???, and rookie Bryan Smith. The
Eagles wish him luck in his future endeavors.
Todd Herremans v. Max Jean-Gilles
Reid would love it if Max Jean-Gilles could win the starting job over
Todd Herremans because it would add another 50 pounds of raw power to
the already mammoth O-line. MJG is absolutely enormous and he run
blocks like there is a buffet table in the end zone. Herremans is the
better pass blocker, though you probably can't tell at times. We all
know Andy thinks the fastest way to the buffet table is through the
air, so the coach's affinity for the passing game indicates this is
Herremans' job to lose. That being said, MJG is talented enough to take
over right now if he cuts out a few extra servings at dinner.
Sheldon Brown v. Lito Sheppard
get it, Lito. You're pissed off because you want to be a starter and
receive the financial recognition that comes with it. Sometimes you
need to just go out and take what’s yours. The $57 million dollar man
obviously won't be riding the pine, but right corner is up for grabs.
How else will you feed your family, Lito? To survive, you need to show
up and compete for playing time. Sheldon Brown is a respectable challenge,
but if you expect to see those big time bonuses next summer, you need
to put him in his place: the nickelback.