Eagles Mailbag: Jeff Maehl's future, Lane Johnson's suspension, Zach Ertz's improvement

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles Q and A.

Welcome to the BGN Mailbag, where I do my best to answer your questions about the Philadelphia Eagles. Thanks again to everyone on Twitter who sent in a question.

To the Q&A...

@ABigCatL92 asks: Do you see a place for Jeff Maehl on this team? I don't myself, but want an experts opinion

There's no better way to ensure that I answer your question than by affirming my status as an expert. Joking aside, I actually do see a place for Jeff Maehl on the Eagles 53 man roster. It's pretty much the same spot he had last year: depth receiver and special teams contributor. The Eagles will probably keep six wide receivers. Five of them are locks by my evaluation: Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Brad Smith. The sixth spot, as of this point, comes down to Jeff Maehl or Arrelious Benn. Benn has looked healthy and impressed at OTAs on offense. But the same thing was probably said last year before he suffered an injury in training camp. Benn needs to stay healthy and prove he's a better ST player than Maehl in order to beat him out. For now, Maehl, who also made some nice catches in OTAs, has the edge.

@TheGalviz_05 and @AlexisAarons ask: Can Tim Howard block the possible suspension of Lane Johnson?

I love that two separate people asked me this question without knowing the other asked. Good work here. Tim Howard is awesome. But unfortunately, no, I don't think he can. He's probably too busy blocking awkward hug attempts. What can block the suspension of Johnson is a successful appeal. That's what happened in the case of Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman in 2012. That said, I would still assume that Johnson is going to serve a suspension. It's just a little weird that it's taking so long for the announcement to be made official.

@fuhstastic asks: Can a guy like Matt Tobin make a place for himself by week 5? Or is he still buried behind Allen Barbre?

Matt Tobin seems to be a guy the Eagles are high on. The Eagles have been training him at guard despite coming in as a tackle, but I imagine he can probably play both. At this point he's definitely behind Barbre. I think, ideally, Tobin is the #NextBarbre. That is, the first OL to come off the bench in case of injury at every spot except center. That seems like a realistic expectation to me. A more optimistic expectation would be for Tobin to take over as a starting guard in replacement of Evan Mathis or Todd Herremans in the future.

@luisbleedsgreen asks: By how much do you think LeSean McCoy's workload decreases this upcoming season?

A little bit. But not too much. McCoy is too valuable in Chip Kelly's run-heavy offense to not have the ball in his hands. The combination of Darren Sproles and Chris Polk should allow McCoy to get a breather here and there, but I still expect a lot of Shady in 2014.

@BenNatan2: Do you expect a diminished role for Riley Cooper with Zach Ertz's improvement and Jordan Matthews' presence?

Whereas I don't see much of a drop off for McCoy, I do see Cooper taking a step back in 2014 to a bigger extent. I don't expect Cooper to fall of the map completely. And it's not so much about Cooper as it is the fact the Eagles have a lot of targets to feed and they won't be shy to spread the ball around. I see a more defined role for Cooper moving forward. What I mean by that is Cooper shouldn't be counted on to carry the offense by any means. He should be connecting on jump ball deep passes from Foles and using his size to his advantage in the red zone. Those are two things he did well last season.

@BoSouvannavong1 asks: Which 2nd rounder takes the biggest leap this year - Nate Allen, Mychal Kendricks, or Zach Ertz?

Nate Allen, who will turn 27 this season, has probably already hit his ceiling. He's a solid starter at safety, not too much more. The real debate here is between Mychal Kendricks and Zach Ertz. Kendricks is more erratic. Ertz's rookie production suggest a safer leap in development. Then again, Kendricks is a full time starter while Ertz is still a rotational player with Brent Celek still around. I can easily see both players progressing, but I'll take Kendricks here for now due to his role and play-making ability that he displayed last year. In 2013 Kendricks became just the third player in Eagles franchise history to have at least four sacks and three interceptions in a single season. He also led the NFL in fumble recoveries (4).

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