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.
As we count down the days together, Bleeding Green Nation will be previewing every position on the Eagles roster. Today we finish up by looking at the special teams unit. [QB] [RB] [WR] [TE] [OL] [DL] [ILB] [OLB] [CB]
Kicker: Alex Henery, Carey Spear
Punter: Donnie Jones (also the Holder)
Long Snapper: Jon Dorenbos
Kick Returner: Brad Smith?
Punt Returner: Darren Sproles?
The much-maligned Alex Henery enters his fourth season with a lot of pressure to perform. His below average performance in 2013 put a big target on his back. It's not impossible for kickers to improve later on in their careers so it'll be interesting to see if Henery can rebound or if this will be his last season as an Eagle. He's currently scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent following the 2014 season.
Carey Spear aka MURDERLEG is the undrafted free agent rookie kicker the Eagles brought in to "challenge" Henery. I put challenge in quotes because Spear is hardly competition for Henery at this point. Spear missed a few easy kicks during the spring practices. He's a long-shot at this point.
Donnie Jones is running unopposed in training camp unlike last year. Jones was quite effective last season and was re-signed to a contract extension this offseason.
Jon Dorenbos is still one of the top long snappers in the league. Not much else to say.
As far as the returner positions go... I'm not sure how that's going to play out yet. That will be something to watch not only in training camp but preseason. Darren Sproles makes the most sense on punt returns due to his limited offensive role. Meanwhile I like Brad Smith's ability as a kick returner.
The Eagles coverage units have the chance to be improved with the additions of players like Bryan Braman, Chris Maragos, Jason Phillips, and Nolan Carroll. Brad Smith and James Casey were two of the Eagles best ST coverage players in 2013. Brandon Boykin is an elite gunner on the punt coverage unit.
I really think this group has the potential to be improved in 2014. Expect a top 10 special teams unit.