This segment–Eagle Eye Evaluation– is designed to give a more in-depth look at key position battles, rookies, and the “long shots” on the roster. The segment follows each preseason game, and give our readers a look at all the stuff that you don’t worry about while watching the game. It’s time for the second edition of Eagle Eye Evaluation to be unveiled…
First, I will run down the most significant position battles, and I will give you my opinions and analysis of the players who are involved in the competition. I have already re-watched the game, focused on the battles, and have written down what I saw from each and every competition: Runningback (Eldra Buckley vs. Lorenzo Booker) In March, when Eldra Buckley was signed to a contract, I guarantee little to none of you Eagles fanatics knew that he was going to make it this far. In fact, I myself didn’t foresee the former Charger sticking with the club past Training Camp. But he has, and has made Lorenzo Booker look bad in the process. However, the two were at basically the same level yesterday night. While Booker failed to gain yardage on crucial 3rd and 4th-down situations, his competition, Buckley, also had a mediocre performace, dropping several simple passes and fumbling the ball in a costly drive late in the contest. I wasn’t impressed by either back after evaluating the game, but I have to give the edge to Buckley as the competition’s winner for yesterday (One may not have noticed the excellent pass blocks Buckley executed, or the quality special teams plays he made…that’s why we have this segment–to inform you of the little things you may have missed that affected the game, and/or it’s players.) Wide Receiver (Hank Baskett vs. Reggie Brown vs. Brandon Gibson) Because I believe DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Kevin Curtis, and Jason Avant have no need to worry of losing their jobs, only Brown, Baskett, and Gibson were included in the WR competition. I’ve listed the three in order of who I thought performed the best overall yesterday, based upon my evaluation and notes of the game:
- Brandon Gibson. This rookie out of Washington State might actually find himself with a roster spot come Opening Day he continues to play like he has thusfar. Recording 4 catches for 49 yards and a TD, Gibson has played far better than expected ever since taking the field for the first time in spring mini-camps. Is he on his way to the 5th or 6th WR slot? Performances like this will give him that, for sure. No doubt, he was working at the end of the game when most of the 3rd-string players were in, but, hey, I didn’t see Reggie Brown scoring and catching balls against that defense.
- Hank Baskett. Hoping to play in his 4th year as an Eagle, Baskett has had an up-and-down career as a Bird. Although he has been inconsistent, he is arguably the most physical receiver on the team, and has great hands, rarely dropping a pass. He didn’t show up until late in the game yesterday, but when he did, he delivered. He put some nice blocks on rushing defensive backs, and was able to grab 3 receptions for 36 yards, one of them being on a clutch 3rd-down situation.
- Reggie Brown. In a regular game recap, I would’ve said “No comment” or “One catch. Need I say more?”, but this is an evaluation, and Reggie didn’t look good. When he was able to finally get on the field late in the exhibition, the former starting WR made only a single catch. Although his lone catch went for 27 yards, he wasn’t able to do much else. I noticed he ran some poor routes versus the backup Colts’ cornerbacks, and wasn’t able to hold off a safety on a running play, and that was about it. The rest of the tme he was watching from the sidelines. Not the spot to be if you’re fighting for your job.
Barring any freak accident, unexpected trade, or injury, Brent Celek will be playing for the 2009 Eagles as the number 1 or 2 Tight End. Because of this, rookies Rob Myers and Eugene Bright, as well as Matt Schobel, were the TEs involved in a battle. I don’t have a ton to say regarding this position, mainly because Myers was the only one with a statistic, but I do have to say that I wasn’t impressed with the performance of Bright at all. I watched closely to see his blocking skills, and they were less than average. Failing to make even a single catch didn’t help him, and Schobel was the same: no catches, no yards, no good blocks, nothing. It will be interesting to see how this group fares in the coming weeks, especially if there’s any truth to the rumor that the team has given a tryout to former Cowboy and current free agent TE Tony Curtis.
While Babin is not really involved in the competition for the Left DE, he is still in a clear battle for a DE job. Notching a sack and 4 tackles, Jason Babin appears on track to earning a backup job behind Trent Cole at RDE. As for LDE, Abiamiri and Parker have both yet to impress. Neither did a great job rushing the Colts’ QBs, and with the exception of a few solid tackles by Parker, neither had an overall performance even worth discussing. I sure hope that they can improve and become much more appealing in the final two preseason games, but I guess I shouldn’t get too worried, considering they’re both expected to make the team no matter how they play for a few quarters in a meaningless game.
For the second week in a row, Demps seemed to be the clear standout of those competing for the FS job. Harris had to be the runner-up, recording 4 tackles and a sack, as well as executing a few smooth rushes of the QB. Harrison saw barely any action, and I only spotted him on special teams plays. As of now, it appears he will be among those to be released before the final roster cutdown. As for Sean Jones, the former Brown, he took more reps at SS rather than FS, and I don’t really consider him a threat to Demps’ job anymore. He now appears to be solidly in place as the backup Strong Safety.
Before you finish reading our second edition of Eagle Eye Evaluation, scan over two of the other position battles that were still important, but didn’t play as significant as a factor as the others that were explained in detail:
- Middle Linebacker: Rookie Moise Fokou was the star, with starter Joe Mays underperforming and Omar Gaither missing the game with a knee sprain. Other competitors, including Matt Wilhelm and Charleston Hughes, played well, but the clear standout was Fokou, who made a team-high 6 tackles and covered his assigned receivers with confidence.
- Quarterback: A.J. Feeley is playing for his job now that Michael Vick is in town, and he performed quite well, considering he was being blitzed by the Colts on nearly every snap. Completing all but 4 of his passes, Feeley seems to be right around the same level as Kevin Kolb in terms of who will be getting the last QB spot, but it appears likely that Feeley will have to play outstanding to oust the young and hopeful Kolb, who the organization is very fond of. Rookie free agent signing Adam DiMichele played great, but it was surely just for show, as the former Temple University star is just about guaranteed to be released before Week 1 of the regular season (there’s no way the Eagles will keep 5 QBs).
Look for another evaluation after next week’s matchup with the Jaguars!
Picture source: Online image. File photo. http://photos.upi.com/topics-PHILADELPHIA-EAGLES-VS-INDIANAPOLIS-COLTS/92eac63283e9e48cecd972d2f8b05dd9/J.jpg