Though it might feel like it just begun, we’re already halfway through Philadelphia Eagles training camp. The team was originally set to hold just 14 practices but the recent addition of two more makes it 16. And we’re coming off the conclusion of the eighth practice, the one and only session open to the public at Lincoln Financial Field.
Since we’re halfway there, let’s take stock of the Eagles’ roster by handing out some winners, losers, and IDKs.
He’s clearly one of the very best players on the team. For the most part, Brown has caught everything thrown his way. He’s basically been unstoppable on slant routes, making tough grabs in traffic and looking primed to take advantage of YAC opportunities. Brown has also made some contested one-handed grabs. And he’s been doing this all while beating high quality cornerbacks in Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Barring any unexpected snafus, Brown is going to be the Eagles’ first 1,000-yard wide receiver since Jeremy Maclin in 2014.
Bradberry has been beaten by Brown but he’s also been the best corner against him this summer. The New York Giants’ loss is certainly the Eagles’ gain as Bradberry looks closer to the 2020 Pro Bowl version of himself than the guy who fell off a bit in 2021. Bradberry has often had sticky coverage and has made plays on the ball. Can really only recall one rep that was flat out bad and it was on the first day of camp when he got lost on a crossing route.
The big man is a big deal. As expected, he’s a force when it comes to pushing offensive linemen back towards the quarterback. He’s also been actively clogging up some Eagles rushing attempts. Just how much Davis plays in 2022 remains to be seen with both Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave ahead of him. But the Eagles would be remiss to not give their 2022 first-round pick a significant role. Concerns about his pass rush ability are overstated if his ability to rush the passer in practice is any indication.
Barnett is hardly one of the most popular players on the Eagles’ roster. But he’s done well for himself to stay out of the spotlight while quietly turning in a good camp. I don’t know that he’s suddenly about to be a double-digit sack guy. But he’s mostly avoided drawing penalty flags and he’s often been around the quarterback.
Brandon Lee Graham
Fletcher Cox talked about how Graham looks even better than he did prior to BLG’s Achilles injury. It’s not hyperbole. Graham is practicing like a man on a mission. He’s regularly generating pressure and disrupting the run. I can’t help but wonder ... might Graham actually have a career year at age 34? Might he finally reach his long-stated goal of hitting double-digit sacks in one season? Given the camp he’s having, I don’t think it’s impossible. Graham could lead all Eagles edge rushers in playing time this year.
Prior to camp, Epps was commonly viewed as one of the few weak links on the roster. That should no longer be the case. He’s the most inspiring safety option on the team right now. This isn’t to suggest he’s about to become a Pro Bowler. But he at least looks like a good starter who can excel in coverage in addition to making some big hits. Entering camp, there was thought that Epps was battling for a starting safety spot. It’s now clear he’s going to start. The question is who starts next to him. It’ll probably be Anthony Harris ... but that spot should be less settled than Epps’ spot.
Edwards has arguably had the best camp of any Eagles player. Or at least any Eagles defender ... though Bradberry is also up there. He’s LB1 on this team. He’s smart, he’s a leader, he can defend the run, and he can make plays in coverage. Though hardly the Eagles’ most athletic linebacker, he is their best overall player that position. Expect him to lead all linebackers in snaps played this season.
The Eagles have cited “speed” as a key attribute when acquiring players in the past. That makes sense, pretty good skill to have. The problem is ... it’s often been overstated and hasn’t manifested in a positive way. That’s not the case with White. His speed is real and it’s allow to make plays. Whether that’s flying around to blow up a screen, or getting after the quarterback and being able to close on him, or disrupting a pass in coverage ... he’s making good things happen. Edwards and White have earned the right to be the top two linebackers in terms of playing time.
Taylor had an active camp last year before injuries negatively impacted his 2021 season. Now healthy, Taylor is picking back up where he left off. He’s been flying around the field. He’s making the case for having a role on defense.
Mr. T might be the most improved player in training camp. He was pretty bad in both the practices and preseason games last summer. Pro Football Focus actually graded him out as one of the worst players prior to the regular season, ranking him 170th out of 175 interior defenders. Now, Tuipulotu is looking much more disruptive up the middle. He should be considered a lock to make the roster, assuming he doesn’t totally fall apart.
Questions remain about Sanders’ pass-catching value. And such his ability to be a true volume running back. But there’s no question about him being an efficient, big play threat runner. In stark contrast to other Eagles backfield options, Sanders has broken off multiple long runs.
My guy Huntley should make the roster. It’s not just that he’s the Eagles’ best kick returning option (by far). He’s also flashed real deal speed on offense. Not to mention the ability to get physical by lowering a shoulder or stiff arming a defender. As the lightest player on the roster, power isn’t the name of his game. But his fearless attitude is admirable. Huntley is at least making the case for some occasional offensive touches.
Covey just might be able to crack the roster. The Utah UDFA has been first up during punt return reps. More recently, he’s even got offensive looks with the starters. Nick Sirianni talked up Covey’s quickness. The team seems to like him. Preseason games will be big for Covey’s hopes of sticking around.
Sinnett has been the best quarterback in Eagles training camp relative to expectation. Of course, expectations for Sinnett entering camp were virtually nonexistent. Most likely viewed him as QB4. He’s clearly QB3 at worst, though, and he just took some QB2 reps during Sunday’s practice. Might he actually push for the backup spot behind Hurts? I wouldn’t say it’s likely that he overtakes Gardner Minshew ... but he can help to close the gap by looking good in the preseason. He’ll get plenty of snaps to show what he’s got. So far, he’s showed a decent arm, not terrible decision-making, and at least adequate accuracy. Not trying to damn with faint praise there but also not trying to go overboard.
Chachere has made more plays in one camp with the Eagles than K’Von Wallace has in his entire career combined. Chachere is an active player in coverage as a second team safety. He also demonstrated special team chops last year, so, he should be on the roster. I didn’t even mention how he has the versatility to play cornerback, especially as a backup nickel.
I might have to take the L on criticizing the Jurgens pick because he’s looked pretty good. Despite being relatively undersized, Jugens has not often been outpowered. Yes, there have been reps where he’s been overpowered (such as the viral clip of him getting blown back by Davis). But he’s held his own more often than not. The Eagles seem to have a viable option should something happen to Jason Kelce (God forbid). Of course, still don’t know what happens with Jurgens if Kelce wants to come back for 2023, which shouldn’t be entirely inconceivable.
I don’t know if the numbers will allow him to find a spot on the roster but Blankenship has made some plays in coverage and in run support while running with the third team defense. Another UDFA with a chance to make the roster, especially given how the Eagles are thin at safety. Currently lean to him being on the practice squad but a strong preseason could convince the Eagles to not expose him to waivers.
He’s clearly QB4 behind Hurts, Minshew, and Sinnett. His reps have been sparse; he didn’t even see any 11-on-11 looks on Sunday night. And when he has taken reps, he’s struggled with accuracy and decision-making. Strong doesn’t look anywhere near ready to play in a meaningful game. Practice squad candidate.
Minshew Mania is not running wild in South Philly. QB2? More like QB poo! Because he stinks right now! OK, that’s harsh. Joking aside, Minshew just hasn’t looked good. Accuracy issues, questionable decision-making, holding onto the ball too long. And it’s not just like he’s a victim of playing on the second string. Sinnett is working with less talent than Minshew is and is reasonably doing well with his circumstances. Minshew is not coming close to maximizing his situation. The bad has outweighed the good for the mustache man.
The Bernie Sanders meme with the text saying “I am once again asking for Nakobe Dean to flash literally one time this summer.” That Dean hasn’t excelled to this point is hardly the biggest deal. He’s a rookie at a position where there might be a bigger learning curve than other spots. That said, I recall many who were projecting Dean to have a very significant role for the 2022 Eagles. Some suggesting he would be the best LB on the roster and lead the position in snaps. That much seems far-fetched at the moment with Edwards, White, Taylor, and Shaun Bradley all looking better than Dean at this point. Dean could still work his way into a role on this defense. But an every-down difference-maker from the jump as some were purporting? I’d be pretty surprised by that much. Pump the brakes on the Dean hype for now.
With Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard suffering concussions, Clark had a chance to work in as the first team left tackle. And boy did he not look good while filling in there. Now Clark is missing practice due to a hamstring issue. Stock down.
Driscoll has not seized an opportunity to be the top backup at guard. Sua Opeta has outshined him to earn that role. Driscoll hasn’t held up very well at right tackle, often getting beat like a drum by BLG. Driscoll has been solid enough during game action in the past to suggest he earns a spot as a viable backup. But does he have a ceiling as a long-term starter? Eh.
ZMP had a good camp last year. This summer has been more up-and-down for him. He could’ve really taken the top backup cornerback job by the horns ... but he hasn’t done that. He’s instead allowed the gap to be closed on him for that role with other young corners flashing in practice.
Shitty luck to have to go through food poisoning and lose 16 pounds in the process. Pascal is still ramping up to get back to top form. Essentially missing half of training camp (in addition to at least one OTA practice) isn’t ideal as he loses out on time to build a bettter rapport with Hurts.
G-Ward shouldn’t be considered a lock to make the roster. He hasn’t done much to impress while on the field. He’s currently dealing with a toe injury that’s caused him to miss several days. Covey is breathing down his neck as his replacement.
In fairness, he’s been out of football for some time. I can’t imagine the transition is super easy for him. But the track star just hasn’t shown any intriguing flashes. He entered camp as a long shot and that he remains.
No real intrigue with him moving to tight end. And he just got banged up in practice.
On the bright side, he was trusted with first team reps when Anthony Harris was missing practice early in camp. But he struggled during those. Honestly, when was the last time Wallace flashed? Can you remember?
When the Eagles signed Tartt, there was thought that he would compete with Epps for a starting role. Now Tartt appears to be competing for a roster spot at all. He’s been moved down to being a third team safety with Josiah Scott, who is being converted from a nickel corner, ahead of him on the depth chart.
I DON’T KNOWS
Through eight practices, Hurts had has two stock up days, three stock even days, and three stock down days. It’s been a mixed bag ... not unlike his 2021 season. My BGN Radio co-host Jimmy Kempski qualified his 15 starts last year as follows: six stock up games, five stock even games, and five stock down games. The feeling here is that Hurts is much closer to being a finished product than people would like to admit. There’s been no indication of him being a night-and-day different player. Yes, he’s made some strides when it comes to throwing the ball over the middle and getting the ball out faster. But not to a frequency where he looks poised to take a huge jump in Year 3. Hurts is solid enough to offer the Eagles a decent floor as a “win with” player but questions remain about this team’s ceiling with him as their quarterback.
Considered putting Smith in the losers section but I can’t because he’s very much a good player. It’s just that he’s suffered from 1) Hurts loving throwing to Brown and 2) getting banged up. I keep thinking about how Smith isn’t necessarily a great fit with Hurts considering how his game thrives on precision whereas Brown is able to succeed a bit more out of structure.
Relative to very low expectations, Reagor has had a good camp. But there still have been a number of plays where he’s the target and something bad happens (pick, PBU, drop, etc). Probably not just a coincidence. Reagor has also seemingly been surpassed by Covey as the punt returner. That much should be the case but it diminishes the value he provides as a non-starter. With the camp Reagor’s had, it wouldn’t be a total disgrace to keep him on the roster. But it’s still probably in the best interest of everyone involved for him to get a fresh start elsewhere, preferably via trade.
Jimmy made a good point on BGN Radio about contrasting Graham’s approach to camp with Cox’s. Whereas BLG appears driven to play better than ever coming off his injury, it’s hard to say Cox has brought the same energy this summer. And this while Cox is arguably coming off his worst season and was brought back on a deal that drew criticism. It might not matter that Cox isn’t going all out in camp. But remember the following from a Jeff McLane article last year? Maybe that wasn’t coming from absolutely nowhere?
But Cox hasn’t been as consistent as the Rams defensive tackle, particularly the last two years. Injuries haven’t helped. Offseason foot surgery slowed him at the start of the 2019 season. A neck injury pestered him during the second half of 2020. To his credit, he missed only one game over that span. There was a feeling among some coaches, however, that Cox wasn’t maximizing his ability over that span, or taking the necessary preventative steps in terms of his health, team sources said. And there is an internal concern that he won’t take the extra steps as he enters his 30s to retire in Philadelphia.
The Eagles have publicly backed Siposs as their punter but he’s not even really punting in camp. Odd. Would think that they’ll be looking hard at punters who become available following roster cuts down to 53 players.
The rookie tight end showed pass-catching chops early in camp. Then he suffered a hamstring injury. Calcaterra might still be able to push for the TE2 spot. But each missed day is less of an opportunity for him to do so.
Jobe has stacked two good practices in a row. Can the UDFA CB keep it up? He hasn’t looked good enough to earn a spot in the winners section just yet. The Alabama alumnus is trending in the right direction, though.
In a similar boat as Jobe. He’s flashed in coverage, especially recently.