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The State Of The Eagles: June 3

This feature is a weekly piece on titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

In the midst of a 10-session Organized Team Activities period that leads into a mandatory minicamp starting June 16, there are certain observations to be made about the Philadelphia Eagles. It's way too early for conclusions to be drawn, however. Pads aren't even on yet. A whole world of stars in shorts turn into Lorenzo Bookers in pads.

So let's start the conversation ...

  • This offense has a ton of playmakers, and head coach Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will have many options. Expect them to move the pieces around quite a bit. For example, it would benefit this offense greatly to get the football more to Darren Sproles this year. He had 40 receptions last season, which was lower than many expected. Maybe he displaces in the formation more now so teams can't double him or knock him around at the line of scrimmage. Look for him in the slot or out wide just a bit more to create favorable matchups.

  • I wondered how linebacker Brandon Graham would respond after signing his big contract and having a chance to be a full-time starter. Well, I'm not wondering any longer. Graham has been a beast in the conditioning program and in the two OTA sessions the media has seen, Graham has been hugely energetic and extremely quick off the ball. He's so different than early in his career. Feeling good about Graham.

  • Let's talk quarterbacks for a moment, please. All of this play-by-play I read from the OTAs is a bit maddening. The view from the team: Sam Bradford is right on track in his recovery from his second torn ACL in his left knee. He's throwing a great ball. He is stepping up his participation in the OTAs. All good. On schedule. Mark Sanchez is playing well, throwing decisively, getting the ball out quickly. Matt Barkley has thrown the ball well. Tim Tebow has been inconsistent. The defense, remember, plays virtually all press coverage. There aren't a lot of check-down, easy completions against zone coverage. This quarterback group should be fine, with good health. It's only fair to reserve judgment, though, until we see the offense in the preseason against other defenses.

  • It is fair to wonder about the offensive line, particularly the guard spots. Evan Mathis remains missing from the OTAs, and there is no word on whether he will show for the mandatory camp in two weeks. Allen Barbre is running with the starters at left guard and Matt Tobin and Andrew Gardner are splitting time at right guard. Keep an eye on undrafted rookie Brett Boyko. Josh Andrews has a lot of talent. But, yeah, it's an area to think about. Jeff Stoutland is a great offensive line coach, so we'll see how he handles the personnel.

  • You're going to like the approach to defense this season. Physical. Aggressive. A bit of a swagger. Byron Maxwell brings some ‘tude to the secondary, and he plays it right: Up at the line of scrimmage, hands on the receiver, nasty and hungry.

  • Isn't it great that nobody worries about the special teams? As good as they were last season, the special teams could be better this year. Cody Parkey looks much stronger after tiring a bit in the stretch of his rookie campaign.

  • My early, early, early candidate for Most Improved Eagle: defensive lineman Taylor Hart. He took a red shirt last season and is going to compete now for playing time at a really deep position. The front group is so underrated. Could be really good this year.

  • Disappointing to see that 2014 No. 1 draft pick Marcus Smith is missing OTA time with an injury. He needs all the on-field time he can get. The Eagles need to see something positive from Smith in the summer months ahead, some way for him to contribute in 2015.

  • Walter Thurmond has a great chance to win the starting safety job next to Malcolm Jenkins. The Eagles like his coverage skills and his tackling. Going from cornerback to safety could be a huge boost for Thurmond's career. He's here on a one-year contract and, yeah, safety is a must-improve position for the defense. I'm still not ruling out an Eric Rowe move to safety, but for now he's a cornerback and the Eagles are really, really high on him.

  • Nolan Carroll has run with the starters at cornerback opposite Maxwell. The Eagles rave about Carroll's offseason. He's a physical guy who is invigorated after playing as a quasi-linebacker last season. Brandon Boykin? He's seen some reps outside, but I think he's destined to be the slot corner here. It's a valuable role. The Eagles need the slot corner to be outstanding. Nobody in coverage was outstanding last year.

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