Philadelphia Eagles training camp 2016 is almost here. Coaches and players report as soon as Monday, July 25. The 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. We end this series today by taking a look at the special teams unit.
Will the Eagles' special teams unit take a step back?
The Eagles consistently had one of the best special teams units in the NFL under Chip Kelly. Will that continue under Doug Pederson?
There's reason to be concerned. Kelly especially emphasized special teams during practice and roster construction. Andy Reid wasn't so much known for that during his tenure, and Pederson is obviously a disciple of Reid.
There's reason for optimism as well. The Eagles retained special teams coordinator Dave Fipp. Along with Kelly, he obviously deserves some credit for the success of his units in past years. Philadelphia also still has a number of good special teams contributors on the roster: Chris Maragos, Bryan Braman, Trey Burton, etc.
It's entirely possible the Eagles' specials unit takes a step back in 2016, but it shouldn't be expected to fall off completely.
Kicker: Cody Parkey
Punter: Donnie Jones
Long Snapper: Jon Dorenbos
Punt Returner: Darren Sproles
Kick Returner: Josh Huff
The position battle that everyone obviously cares about the most is the Eagles' kicker competition. 20 years from now, we'll all look back and remember the blood, sweat, and tears that will be poured out by Cody Parkey and Caleb Sturgis this summer.
Sturgis has a slight lead in the competition as the Eagles enter camp. He outkicked Parkey during spring practices. It's worth noting Parkey wasn't a full participation for all of OTAs because he's been recovering from the groin injury he suffered last season. Parkey still has a chance to take back the job if he can outkick Sturgis this summer.
The Eagles originally brought in competition for the 36-year-old Donnie Jones but it didn't last long. Philadelphia cut Ryan Quigley in late May. Jones had a good year last season so we'll see if he can continue to play well as he nears retirement age.
As if a kicker battle wasn't entertaining enough, the Eagles have a LONG SNAPPER BATTLE. Jon Dorenbos, the longest tenured player on Philadelphia's roster, is being pitted against an undrafted rookie free agent from West Virginia: John DePalma. Dorenbos is also busy competing in America's Got Talent, though it's unclear if that will impact his football schedule.
Darren Sproles turned 33 this offseason and he's entering the last year of his contract. But while his long-term future is in question, there's no question he's still one of the best punt returners in the NFL. He finished second in punt return average (11.7) last season and first in touchdowns scored (2). Sproles looked shifty and fast as ever during spring practices.
Josh Huff struggled as the Eagles' primary kick returner last season. He ranked 12th out of 13 qualified returners with a 23.7 average. Huff has shown the ability to take it to the house in the past, but he's hardly a consistent threat.