Each week Patrick and Dave discuss the week that was. It's Two Guys Internetting Football!
Dave: I went on vacation, came back and there was football! Maybe I should try this super power out earlier in the summer next year. We talked a bit about pre-season expectations earlier this week, so let's get down to some specifics. Of course having a nice camp doesn't mean much if you don't do anything when the games count, but when an already good player is standing out, that probably bodes well. Is Jordan Matthews going to take the sophomore step up and become a "#1"? Are the coaches going to let Zach Ertz be the starter? Is Byron Maxwell the cure to the DB ills? How long will those signs float over my head?
Patrick: Welcome back! We missed you, bud.
I hate to use Chipisms too much, but I really don't think we're going to see a "number one receiver" here. That said, I fully expect Jordan Matthews to be the team leader in pretty much every receiving category. Here's a fun stat: only seven players over the last ten years have finished their rookie season with at least 65 catches, 870 yards and eight touchdowns. Sure, those numbers are pretty arbitrary, but I think it nicely illustrates that kind of player Matthews is at this stage in his career. He doesn't have the speed to make the highlight reel every play, but I fully expect him to be a force this year. And if the first handful of days at training camp are any indication, Matthews expects it out of himself, too. Is 80/1,000/10 too much to ask for from J-Matt in 2015? I feel like that could really be his floor.
Dave: Yeah, that's why I put #1 in scare quotes, I agree that we probably won't see a true lead receiver and I agree hat it's not crucial. I also agree that he will lead the team in all receiving stats, and that 80/1000/10 is a reasonable prediction. I feel like predicting a breakout for Ertz is déjà vu, but consider this: if you combined Ertz and Celek you would have the most receptions and second most receiving yards among tight ends in 2014. That's a bit misleading, because no one TE plays all snaps, but if Ertz can get the bulk of playing time, he should have a fantastic season. Or am I setting myself up for disappointment?
Patrick: I don't think that kind of potential is out of the question, but he's got to get that much playing time first. And I think that is going to be one of the biggest things worth watching in the preseason. If Ertz can prove to be an improved blocker, there's not really a reason to give Celek the bulk of the snaps. At practice on Tuesday I saw Ertz line up all over the field, and since the offense is all about creating mismatches, it's going to be tough to justify him not getting in there for at least half the snaps, right?
Speaking of breakout candidates, how about Josh Huff? When talking about the Eagles' wide receivers, a lot of the national media folks are saying that there's no talent there. But so far Huff has looked impressive during training camp. If he can cut down on the mental mistakes he made during the year last season, he could really open some eyes. What are your expectations for Huff this year?
Dave: I hope they line Ertz up all over the place. I was disappointed they didn't use him out wide often last season when it was clear that Riley Cooper was dead weight. There was nothing to lose and first downs to gain, and going from a two tight end look to three wide recievers without changing personnel is right up Chip's alley. Frustrating. As for Huff, as I said earlier in the week, he's my choice for breakout player this pre-season. It's common for WRs to struggle their rookie year (remember when Alshon Jeffrey was being called a bust during his?) so his lack of playing time and struggles when he did play don't yet concern me. Only one of the three starting jobs is secure (Matthews), someone (sometwo?) needs to step up and outright claim them. Riley Cooper? Nah. Miles Austin? Maybe. Considering the flotsam and jetsam he had at QB last year, he had a decent season for a "#2", but I'm not expecting much from him. Seji Ajirotutu? No chance. Nelson Agholor? Possibly, and if so I imagine it would be as the season progresses (shamless plug), but I would prefer to not count on rookies. GJ Kinne? You bet! Really though, there's no leader in the clubhouse for the non-Jordan Matthews starting jobs. It's a top position battle to watch. Someone will probably establish a good rapport with Bradford and force their way in the lineup. Considering that Bradford isn't remotely a gunslinger, a guy who can take a short pass and break out some YAC could nail down a starting job. Huff is a prime candidate for that.
Speaking of leader in the clubhouse, after just one week JaCorey Shepherd has staked a strong but very early claim to the Na Brown Award. The team is basically handing him it by trading a fan favorite and all but giving him the job. But we've seen early camp risers completely flame out once the games begin, such as Ifeanyi Momah. And we already saw a pre-preseason favorite, Devante Davis get cut. So the Shepherd hype might not last long.
Anyone other low/no expectation guys stand out to you when you were at camp?
Patrick: The first guy that comes to mind is running back Raheem Mostert. He had a nice sideline catch Tuesday, and got first team reps on Thursday (though Sanchez was the quarterback). He's super fast and if he's already being used out of the backfield and as a kick returner, it probably bodes well for his chances of making the team (or, more realistically, the practice squad.)
Dave: Good call. With three good running backs on the roster, it will be tough for Mostert to make the roster. He might be a legitimately good player who is the odd man out on an extremely deep log jam. Or he could be the next Henry Josey. Definitely one to keep an eye on.