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.
Malcolm Jenkins, Nate Allen, Earl Wolff, Chris Maragos, Ed Reynolds, Daytawion Lowe, Keelan Johnson
The best news is Patrick Chung is gone. It wasn't a lack of effort that plagued Chung but he just made too many mistakes on the field. From tackling his own players to getting lost in coverage... it just wasn't good. Even with Chung gone the Eagles safety position is a bit of a question mark.
Malcolm Jenkins was the team's top free agent signing when free agency started. Some were less than thrilled with this signing citing Jenkins' poor grade on Pro Football Focus. While it's true Jenkins isn't a star I don't see how he's not a fit in this Eagles defense. That's something to consider when players switch teams in free agency. Jenkins can blitz or cover from a number of spots on the field. He's a veteran leader and he knows what he's doing out there. Jenkins is the anti-Chung. I'm interested to see if Jenkins can prove his doubters wrong.
Nate Allen returned to the Eagles on a one-year deal that came after he had sat untouched on the free agent market for a number of days. Allen has been heavily criticized in the past but he played some of his best football last season. Allen probably isn't much more than a solid starter but that's OK.
Battling with Allen for a starting safety spot is second year defensive back Earl Wolff. Wolff is fully recovered from a knee injury that caused him to sit out after Week 10 of the 2013 season. Wolff showed some potential last year but he also struggled. He also seemed to look better on the field by simply not being Chung. Wolff will have every chance to beat out Allen for a starting job but it won't be handed to him.
Chris Maragos is essentially the new and improved Colt Anderson. He's a backup safety but he's probably more capable of playing on defense than Anderson was. He also might be the better special teams ace considering Anderson missed six tackles last year.
Ed Reynolds is the rookie safety the Eagles drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. I don't expect Reynolds to contribute right away. He's already behind from having missed some of the Eagles OTA practices. Reynolds is a smart and tough player that could spend most of his rookie year playing special teams.
Daytawion Lowe is a player that I don't know too much about aside from the fact I have a hard time spelling his name. Lowe is 5-11, 196 and played for Oklahoma State. He signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent.
Keelan Johnson spent most of the Eagles season on the practice squad before being called up to the active roster later on in the year. He was most recently arrested in Arizona which certainly doesn't bode well for his roster chances. Especially because it will cause him to miss some time in training camp.
How will it play out?
I see the Eagles keeping five safeties just like they did last year. The top three guys will rotate in on the defense. Malcolm Jenkins is a lock to be a starter while Nate Allen and Earl Wolff will compete for the other starting job. I'll give the edge to Allen for now but Wolff could easily take over. The loser of the battle will still get playing time. The remaining two safeties, Chris Maragos and Ed Reynolds, are primarily special teams contributors for now.
Some have suggested that rookie safety Ed Reynolds might not be a lock just because he was an Eagles draft pick. While it's true draft picks need to earn their roster spot, I don't think the Eagles would have spent a fifth round pick on Reynolds knowing he'd miss some offseason time (OTAs) only to cut him by the end of the summer. I don't see any surprise cuts coming at this position.