This feature is a weekly piece on BleedingGreenNation.com 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.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Eagles are going to contend in 2018. I know, I know, I’m really going out on a limb here. The roster is deep with young talent. The high-end talent is as good as any in the league, starting at the quarterback position. Head coach Doug Pederson managed his weary veterans in the spring and they will come back fresh in the summer for Training Camp and the preseason.
Other than losing linebacker Paul Worrilow with a knee injury, it was a pretty terrific spring for the Eagles, who finished their mandatory minicamp last week and now are off until the July 25 report date to the NovaCare Complex, with a July 26 first day of camp next.
Here are some takeaways from a spring of Eagles practices and preparation for the 2018 season …
- Your coming-from-nowhere player of the spring was cornerback De’Vante Bausby, a practice-squad player last season who the personnel staff talked up quite a bit the week of the Super Bowl in casual chatter. Bausby enters Training Camp as a legitimate contender to win the nickel cornerback job. We’ll see when the pads go on. I’m still of the belief that Avonte Maddox will be a factor in there because he’s a good matchup against the smaller, quicker wide receivers like Cole Beasley and Jamison Crowder. But give Bausby his due. He’s put himself in position to make a real run at a spot on the 53-man roster.
- You know where the Eagles are maybe their deepest? In a league that just doesn’t have enough pass rushers and cornerbacks, the Eagles have both. This is a great thing to know. The challenge with the defensive line will be twofold: One, get everyone healthy and two, work manage the age of some of the players and get the rotation going. The players are going to have to understand that they need to share reps to keep them fresh for the long season and, hopefully, long postseason.
- Cam Johnston has to be consistent every day in Training Camp to win the punter/holder job. He was OK in the spring. Not great. Certainly not convincing enough that the Eagles are handing him the job. Said coordinator Dave Fipp of Johnston: “At the end of the day, Cam knows that it’s a competitive situation just like all these players know. There may not be another player here right now, but we’re obviously looking at every single punter that’s out there. Some teams have two right now. At the end of the day, we’re going to make the best decision for the Philadelphia Eagles.” Translation: Competition is coming unless Johnston is great every day in camp.
- Nate Sudfeld benefited as much as anyone taking increased reps in the spring. He will take a lot in the summer, too. With Carson Wentz making great strides from his knee injury but not all the way back, and with Nick Foles a known commodity, the Eagles want to know what they have in Sudfeld. Many inside the organization believe he can become a starter in this league. Remember, a year ago Sudfeld was a Redskin. Washington bailed on Sudfeld. The Eagles are developing him the right way.
- So you’ve done your mock 53-man roster and you have the Eagles keeping four running backs, right? You can book Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement onto the roster. Darren Sproles, too, assuming he recovers all the way from his knee injury. Who is No. 4? Matt Jones has the size and running backs coach Duce Staley is hammering Jones, working him hard, coaching him like he’s never been coached. Wendell Smallwood has the explosiveness but has not been able to stay healthy. Donnel Pumphrey was a fourth-round draft pick only last season. Pump looked good in the spring, which means a whole lot of nothing without pads. This is going to be great competition. Josh Adams, the undrafted player from Notre Dame who could make a push, hasn’t practiced all spring with a foot injury. He’s going to have a very tough time catching up when he’s healthy. He is a classic developmental-type of player.
- This group of wide receivers is the deepest I’ve seen in all my years here. There will be some legitimate tough calls for the 53-man roster. Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins are in. The rest? Jumbled up and competing. Do the Eagles keep five or six wide receivers on the 53-man roster?
- Can’t tell you much about the safety spots because the pads haven’t yet gone on. Let’s evaluate then. Still, the possibility of the Eagles re-signing veteran Corey Graham has been talked about. We’ll see if it happens. There is quality veteran safety depth on the streets right now.
- Dallas Goedert is Zach Ertz, 2.0. Just as advertised. But he still has a lot to learn. You don’t go from South Dakota State to the NFL and solve all the league’s puzzles in a couple of months.
- Can’t wait to see how the Eagles work on the new tackling rules when the pads go on. Remember, no leading with the helmet – offense, defense or blocking or anything. The game has changed. The teams that adjust the best are going to be the ones that win this season.
- Cornerback Sidney Jones could have used the reps in the minicamp, but he did not practice because of lower-body soreness that, everyone said, had nothing to do with his Achilles tendon injury. Let’s hope he’s OK. Kid has game. Big time. And there is no need to take any chances with him. But it would be great to see him throughout the summer showing how durable he can be. He can be a shutdown cornerback, given his skill set and level of talent. But he has to be out there doing it on a daily basis.