Boring training camp is so 2014. The Philadelphia Eagles will convene at the NovaCare Complex in only one week, and with the start of camp begins again the barrage of questions from Eagles fans: what's the deal at quarterback? Who's going to play safety? Is Tim Tebow seriously going to make this team?
There are plenty of questions to be answered, and this year's camp is shaping up to be one of the more interesting in recent memory. So with that in mind, let's take a look at some of the big questions we'll be asking throughout the rest of the summer.
How will the rookies look?
The Eagles may not have landed that one rookie quarterback in the 2015 NFL Draft, but they did come away with several players who should push for playing time right away. The most obvious examples are Nelson Agholor and Eric Rowe, the team's first and second round picks. Both play positions with starting spots available, and both will be given the opportunity to start right away.
There are also a number of others first year players who could make that push as well. Sixth round cornerbacks Randall Evans and JaCorey Shepherd could find themselves not only making the team, but earning some real minutes.
Chip Kelly doesn't necessarily love handing rookies a ton of responsibility right off the bat, but his mantra of "the best players will play" could end up overriding the fact that these players haven't yet taken a snap in a meaningful NFL game.
Who will step up at guard?
The Eagles weren't shy about getting rid of players in the offseason, and that turnover has been acutely felt along the offensive line. In 2015, none of the Eagles' three remaining starters on the line will play next to the projected starters from the start of last season. That could mean growing pains early, especially in the preseason.
Fighting for those two jobs are a bevvy of players with starting experience. Allen Barbre looks to be the most likely to win a starting gig, likely on the left side. Also competing for a starting spot are Andy Reid draft pick Dennis Kelly, newcomer John Moffitt and Kelly favorite Matt Tobin. This battle could go to the end of training camp, though it would certainly benefit the team to have this battle end quickly. Will any of these players separate themselves from the pack early?
What's happening at inside linebacker?
After years of underwhelming talent at the linebacker position under Andy Reid, the Eagles now have a logjam of talented players at middle linebacker. Kiko Alonso joined the Eagles in the offseason (who can even remember how?), and he joins DeMeco Ryans, Mychal Kendricks and rookie Jordan Hicks to form a seriously impressive crew of inside 'backers.
But as creative as Kelly is, finding ways to keep Alonso, Ryans and Kendricks all happy and productive will be difficult. A Kendricks trade still seems to be the most logical outcome here, as the Eagles just traded for Alonso and re-signed Ryans this offseason. But if all three stay, defensive coordinator Billy Davis thinks he can make it work.
"We can rotate them into the packages that we already have," Davis said during OTAs, via PhillyVoice's Jimmy Kempski, "and there are packages where we can come up with three inside backers that play different kinds of hybrid positions. All three have a high football IQ, and the skill sets are different among all of them, so we can put in some packages to have all three of them out there."
In his three years in Philadelphia, Kendricks has shown that he's capable of playing in coverage, and Alonso comes advertised as a do-it-all linebacker. The real challenge could come for Ryans, who at this point of his career is more of a run-stopping interior player than a coverage guy. And all this is to say nothing of the rookie Hicks. He should get some playing time, as the coaches will likely want to groom him to be a starter down the line.
Whatever the alignment, training camp and preseason should give a glimpse of what the coaches have in mind at inside linebacker.
Who's starting in the secondary?
Here's what we know about the secondary: two starters are already set in stone. And that's about it.
During OTAs we saw Walter Thurmond III take reps at safety and Nolan Carroll II state his case for the second starting cornerback job opposite newcomer Byron Maxwell. And while those guys may have a leg up to start the summer, they are far from sure things. After all, Thurmond has never played safety, and Carroll wasn't able to crack the starting lineup at any point last season.
Again, Rowe is a possibility for either of these starting roles, though the coaches seem to want to start him off at corner. We heard nary a peep from the Utah product during OTAs, and that silence is a little concerning. Hopefully he comes to camp ready to play.
Elsewhere in the secondary, Brandon Boykin is expected to vie for an starting outside job, though history suggests that the odds are not in his favor. And at safety, Earl Wolff, Ed Reynolds and Jerome Couplin will be trying to unseat Thurmond as starter. None of those names sound especially appealing right now, but a lot can change during over the next few weeks.
How are the injured guys?
Ah, the million dollar question. A lot is riding on the players with injury history: the projected starting quarterback, top two running backs and brand new inside linebacker are all either coming off of season-ending injuries or have had serious issues in the past.
While Kiko Alonso, DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews were all able to participate in OTAs without any problems, quarterback Sam Bradford was still working his way back from a torn ACL during the spring. He is aiming to be ready in time for the start of camp, and fans are praying that it's the case. Despite what the coaches are saying, Bradford is expected to be the starting quarterback, and every practice is important as he gears up for the season.
Elsewhere, Earl Wolff is trying to make his way back from a series of nagging injuries that kept him out of OTAs and may have put him in the doghouse. And guys like Thurmond, who missed nearly all of last year with a torn pectoral muscle, could bear watching as well.