Philadelphia Eagles training camp 2014 is fast approaching. Coaches and players report as soon as Friday, July 25th. The entire Eagles training camp schedule, including information on practices open to the public, can be found by clicking here.
DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks, Najee Goode, Jason Phillips, Jake Knott (four game suspension), Emmanuel Acho, Casey Matthews
There are a number of question marks surrounding the Eagles inside linebacker corps.
The first one starts with veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Ryans, who turns 30 at the end of July, logged more snaps than any other defender in the NFL last season at a total of 1189. That's obviously a lot of wear and tear. While Ryans holds value as a leader on the field and in the locker room, the Eagles could arguably upgrade in the middle. At the least, the team might opt to get Ryans off the field more often so he can be more effective in a decreased amount of snaps. As of now, however, there's no indication that will happen. There's little doubt Ryans will start for Philadelphia but his exact role and his future in Philadelphia are definitely in question.
The question with third year linebacker Mychal Kendricks is not the amount of playing time but what he does with it. Kendricks was an erratic starter in 2013. He made his fair share of big plays and big mistakes. Kendricks enters training camp for the second year as a starter as an inside linebacker. Will his position continuity translate to more continuity on the field or will he continue to be an up and down kind of player?
Najee Goode is also entering his third season but he hasn't had much of a starting opportunity to this point. The 6-0, 244 Goode was a late addition to the Eagles roster shortly after roster cuts at the end of last summer. Goode made his impact on special teams and also filled in for Kendricks while the starter went down with an injury. Can Goode prove to be a capable backup linebacker off the bench?
The oft-forgotten Jason Phillips signed with the Eagles in free agency in 2013 but he went down in training camp with an ACL injury. Phillips was seemingly signed as linebacker depth and special teams purposes. The 28-year old veteran took snaps with the second team during spring practice so it seems as if he has a good shot to make the roster. Can Phillips show he's recovered from his injury?
Second year linebacker Jake Knott was suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season due to a positive drug test for PEDs. Knott is a player that the Eagles seem high on, however. He made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent last year and contributed on special teams. Knott will have the benefit of practicing with the team in the summer but he'll have to sit out early on in the season. Can Knott prove valuable enough that the Eagles will overlook his suspension?
Emmanuel Acho was a fan-favorite based on his performances in preseason last year. Acho seemed to look really good on defense. It was a surprise, then, when the Eagles opted to cut Acho and bring in Najee Goode to take his place. Acho returned to Philadelphia's control later on in the season when they signed him to their practice squad. Acho will have another chance to impress this time around. Can Acho earn a roster spot by proving he's capable of playing well on special teams?
Casey Matthews actually lined up as an outside linebacker last season but since the Eagles have a lot of depth there now I'm imagining he will be moved back to the inside. Matthews earned a spot on the roster last year, much to the ire of Eagles fans, due to his special teams efforts. Will he be able to make the roster yet again or is Matthews' tenure in Philadelphia almost over?
How will it play out?
Ryans and Kendricks will be the starters. I imagine Goode will rotate in more than he did last season. Goode and Phillips will likely be the backups. Knott will be kept around despite the suspension. Acho could crack the roster while Knott is suspended.
I don't see any taking place.
I'd be surprised if Knott was cut. As I already mentioned, he's a guy the Eagles seem to like despite his suspension. Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp referenced Knott as one of the returning players he's looking forward to having back on his special teams unit.