To say the Eagles and Joselio Hanson got off to a rocky start last season would be an understatement.
Their on again, off again relationship began in training camp when they let the veteran cornerback go to save some money. Hanson shopped around and nearly signed with the New York Giants, before the Eagles came calling and signed Hanson just 4 days after releasing him.
Could the Eagles and Hanson be heading for a repeat break up this training camp, only this time for good?
Hanson was thought of as one of the best slot corner backs in the league going into last season, as his thick build and ability to be physical over the middle were perfect qualities for the position. But Hanson did not play up to his reputation last season, which is why his job could be on the line heading into Lehigh.
Hanson was on the field for 221 snaps last season according to ProFootballFocus.com, allowing 26 receptions in the 43 times he was targeted. While those numbers are not awful, Hanson allowed more touchdown catches- 4- than any other slot corner back in the league. Hanson also came up with no interceptions, and quarterbacks had a rating of over 100 when throwing his direction. ProFootballFocus.com had him ranked as the 19th best slot cornerback in the league.
While it is hard sometimes to gauge how a player performed in the secondary based off of statistics- defensive schemes can play a part- there is no doubt that Hanson had a disappointing season. His split time with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could have also played a role in the down year. But regardless of the reasons, at 31 years old Hanson will have his hands full at Lehigh trying to fight off rookie Brandon Boykin, the team's 4th round pick from Georgia.
Boykin (5-10, 182) and Hanson (5-9, 185) have similar builds, with Boykin having the slight edge in height. Boykin has the speed advantage over Hanson, and is a much better athlete. His ability to return kicks and punts could also give him the edge if it comes down to the 2 competing for a roster spot. Unlike last year, when money was one of the main reasons Hanson was cut the first time, that should not play a factor this year unless the Eagles really want to penny pinch.
Of the 8 corner backs currently on the roster, you could argue that really only 2 are complete locks to make the team- Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Brandon Hughes and Curtis Marsh should make the team- Marsh because of how highly the Eagles think of him, and Hughes because of his special teams play. That leaves Hanson, Boykin, Trevard Lindley, and DJ Johnson competing for the final spots.
The one advantage Hanson has over Boykin is experience, and more then ever that could play a big role in the cuts being made and deciding who plays. If Andy Reid truly is coaching for his job, is he ready to hand over the slot position to a rookie? Boykin would have to really outplay Hanson in training camp to make that happen.
But based off of his play so far in OTA's- which yes, is just in shorts- Boykin has the talent to do that.
Which means the Boykin-Hanson training camp battle is sure to be one of the best this year.
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks