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Eagles News: PFF says Philadelphia has the NFL’s second best defensive line

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 7/21/20.

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NFL defensive line rankings: All 32 units entering the 2020 NFL season - PFF
2. Philadelphia Eagles. The Philadelphia Eagles have had one of the strongest defensive lines in football for years — not just blessed with top-end talent, but with incredible depth. That doesn’t look likely to change any time soon, and they have added multiple pieces over this past offseason. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham remain and are likely still the unit’s best two players, though Graham’s 2019 PFF grade and pressure total were each the lowest he’s had in a season since 2015; he may be starting to show signs of slowing down at 32 years old. Graham still notched an impressive 67 total pressures and graded well against both the run and pass, so he will likely be a strong starter in 2020. Cox continues to be the best power-rusher in the NFL, generating more pressures over the past two seasons than any interior player not named Aaron Donald. Derek Barnett’s playing time increased last season, even with some time missed due to injuries, but he didn’t take a corresponding step forward as a player. Alongside Cox inside, the team added former Steeler Javon Hargrave, giving them an incredibly powerful interior duo. Hargrave proved last season that he could step into an expanded role when Stephon Tuitt went down, generating career-bests in PFF grade (83.4), pass-rushing grade (76.9) and total pressures (49). Malik Jackson barely featured last season but will hope to prove he can be a significant addition and a situational pass-rusher, while the door remains open for Josh Sweat to continue to earn himself a larger role, particularly if Barnett isn’t able to make strides in his development. Sweat notched 27 total pressures last season on 274 pass-rush snaps.

Don’t sleep on the Eagles’ special teams unit - BGN
Jalen Reagor seems poised to be the Eagles’ new punt return man. The TCU product proved more than capable at the college level with 23 returns for 409 yards and two touchdowns. To put Reagor’s whopping 17.8 average in perspective, consider that Diontae Johnson led the NFL last year with 12.4 yards per return. Give Reagor some daylight and he’s gone.

Programming Notes 7/20 + COVID & Eagles Rookie Contract Updates - BGN Radio
Michael Kist provides insight on what to look for in the BGN feed this week (big name interviews en route!) plus updates on the NFL/Players Association meeting regarding health/safety protocols PLUS updates on the Eagles rookie contracts!

Eagles 2020 training camp preview: Defensive end - PhillyVoice
Barnett is still only 24 years old, and there’s is legitimate reason to believe he can have a breakout season in 2020. The reality is that the Eagles need Barnett to be a good starter. They’re going to have to find a successor for the 32-year-old Graham soon, and having to find two new DE starters would not be an ideal position to be in. With a stacked defensive tackle rotation in the middle of the line, Barnett should see his share of favorable one-on-one matchups on the edge. In April, the team exercised Barnett’s fifth-year option for 2021, and his cap number will likely be north of $10 million. The Eagles would love for Barnett to show that he is worth a contract extension so that they can work out a deal that brings down his 2021 cap number substantially.

Draft picks good to go, and an offensive line overhaul -
What starting jobs remain up in the air, so to speak? Well, health will determine much of who starts at wide receiver, with DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery the leading candidates on the outside, and Greg Ward in the slot. While the Eagles are super high on Reagor and the draft class, as well as veteran Marquise Goodwin, acquired in a draft weekend trade, they haven’t seen any of them in uniform. So, let’s reserve some expectations here until the coaching staff has a better sample size to evaluate. Defensively, the linebacker corps has some questions and the second cornerback spot is going to be a competition on the other side from Darius Slay. While Jalen Mills is going to be the leader, so to speak, taking over a starting safety job, Will Parks is an NFL veteran who is here to push for playing time. The nickel cornerback spot is up for grabs with Cre’Von LeBlanc and newly acquired Nickell Robey-Coleman battling.

A team-by-team prediction: The next wave of NFL standouts - The Athletic
Philadelphia Eagles: Miles Sanders, RB — Breakout impact starter. Sanders shared the Eagles’ backfield for the first half of his rookie season. By the time he became the unquestioned top running back in November, he produced like one of the NFL’s best all-purpose backs. He was one of only six running backs with at least 650 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns from Week 11 through Week 17. Sanders became the seventh rookie to top 800 rushing yards (818) and 500 receiving yards (509). Entering his second season, the Eagles’ 2019 second-round pick is poised for a breakout season. Forget about the committee backfield that coach Doug Pederson has used in his first four seasons; Sanders is the featured running back and will be used in a way like no player on the Eagles since LeSean McCoy was traded in 2015. Sanders broke McCoy’s franchise record for most rushing yards by a rookie. Can he top McCoy’s Year 2, when McCoy rushed for 1,080 yards and caught 78 passes? It’s not out of the question, especially because the Eagles plan to feature Sanders in the passing game.

Eagles 2020 training camp battles: Who’s the No. 2 cornerback? - NBCSP
The Eagles would probably love to see Sidney Jones, their former 2nd-round pick, take control of this starting gig and never give it up. While that’s not completely out of the question, that might be hard to do in just five or six weeks at training camp, especially if Avonte Maddox is given the first crack at the job. I still think there’s untapped potential with Jones but given these circumstances, I’ll say Maddox wins the CB2 job out of camp.

The 2020 NFL All-New-Team Team - The Ringer
The Eagles have needed cornerback depth since their Super Bowl win (and before that, too, if we’re being honest), but had ignored the problem with Band-Aid solutions. Rather than shell out a king’s ransom of two first-round picks for Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey, the Eagles waited until they could snag Slay for cheap. Slay is one of the best cover corners in football, and while he wasn’t spectacular under Lions head coach Matt Patricia, he figures to rebound with Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who was his head coach for his rookie year in Detroit. Philly has already given Slay a contract paying him $43 million over the next three years, so the team seems confident in his ability to contribute. For Detroit, this meant the team traded away its two best defensive backs in less than a year (they dealt Quandre Diggs to Seattle for a fifth-rounder in October) and didn’t get more than a third-rounder in return. This trade is a good example of good organizations getting better and bad organizations getting worse. [BLG Note: Malcolm Jenkins to the New Orleans Saints also makes this list.]

Former Arizona QB Khalil Tate waived by Eagles - AZ Desert Swarm
The Eagles were planning to give the undrafted free agent a try at wide receiver, though the experts over at Bleeding Green Nation told us it was always unlikely he was going to make the roster or even the practice squad given the number of receivers on the roster. By being released now, Tate didn’t even get a shot at OTAs with the Eagles, which were postponed due to the coronavirus crisis.

It’s questionable if the Cowboys can sign any new quality free agents without a Dak Prescott deal - Blogging The Boys
“But when you’re talking about the Cowboys, they have maintained interest in free agents. I can tell you that for a fact. Even during this unusual summer here they would like to still add another piece or two before the season, and not getting a deal done with Dak hampers their ability to be able to do that, especially if it’s a one-year deal on somebody who might be sitting out there because that player’s one-year deal would also all hit the cap this year, other than if you had those phony voidable years that a lot of teams don’t like to do.” The last paragraph is what is extremely interesting because he’s obviously getting that information from someone in the Dallas front office. If the Cowboys are seriously looking to add more veteran pieces to their roster (something they haven’t really done this late in the last 5-7 years), they should have been more aggressive in getting a deal done with Prescott, instead of allowing him to eat up over $31.4 million dollars guaranteed on the 2020 cap. If a long-term deal had been worked out, Prescott’s 2020 cap-hit would likely have been closer to $20 million in 2020, instead of the $31.4 million guaranteed he’ll make.

No fans allowed at Giants training camp, games, for now - Big Blue View
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy made clear on Monday that his Executive Order limiting outdoor gatherings in the state of New Jersey would mean that fans would not be able to attend training camps or games for the New York Giants and New York Jets until conditions improve. Murphy’s statement: “My administration has been working in close coordination with professional sports and college teams to determine how to proceed safely with games at their stadiums amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While we look forward to the day we can return to games as normal and cheer from the stands, continued concerns for the health and safety of fans, team members, and staff dictates that our executive order limiting outdoor gatherings does apply to sporting events, including training camp.”

NFL, players agree to daily COVID-19 testing for first 2 weeks of training camp - ESPN
The NFL and its players have reached agreement on the testing aspect of their COVID-19 safety protocol as training camps get set to open over the next couple of weeks. According to a memo obtained by ESPN, the NFL and the NFL Players Association will require daily COVID-19 testing for the first two weeks of training camp. After two weeks, if the positive test rate is below 5%, the league would scale back to testing every other day. If the positive test rate is not below 5%, they will continue with daily testing until such time as it falls below that number. If the positivity rate hits 5% or higher at any point, they go back to daily testing until it comes down again. “This is ongoing work,” Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, said. “There’s no finish line with health and safety, and I think these protocol are living, breathing documents, which means they will change as we get new information. They will undoubtedly be changing over time, which is what we usually see in medicine.”

COVID-19 Reminds Us Our Fates Are All Tied Together - MMQB
DeMaurice Smith reflects on the legacy of the late Congressman John Lewis, and reminds us of how COVID-19 is more proof that we are all in this together. He also writes about how the union makes decisions about how to proceed amidst the pandemic.


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