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Eagles News: Philadelphia’s top training camp battle

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 6/15/23.

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Philadelphia Eagles Offseason Workout Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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Biggest NFL training camp battles at every defensive position: Philadelphia Eagles have holes to fill in their secondary - PFF
SAFETY: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES. Reed Blankenship vs. Terrell Edmunds vs. Sydney Brown. The defending NFC champions are eyeing another run at a Super Bowl, and with that will come intrigue at any position of change relative to last season’s starting lineup. For 2023, they’ll be replacing both Marcus Epps and C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Epps led the team with 1,239 defensive snaps, with 809 coming from the free safety spot. Gardner-Johnson was seventh on the team with 872 snaps, 222 from the slot and 208 from the box. They’ll attempt to replace those two with a combination of Reed Blankenship, Terrell Edmunds and rookie Sydney Brown. Blankenship was an undrafted free agent in 2022 who played 348 defensive snaps as a rookie and earned 70.0-plus PFF grades across the board. Edmunds never quite lived up to his draft pedigree as a first-rounder and has graded below 70.0 in four of his five seasons as a pro. Brown is a third-rounder who picked off six passes and broke up six more in a box role this past season. Safety is a versatile spot by nature nowadays, but they’ll have to find the right combination of those three to continue to have strong secondary play behind Darius Slay and James Bradberry.

Five positions we’ll see competition on the Eagles’ defense at training camp - NBCSP
Starting safeties: Whatever happens, the Eagles will have two new starting safeties for the second year in a row (Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris in 2021, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Marcus Epps last year). Reed Blankenship and Terrell Edmunds were with the first offense at OTAs, but who’s starting in June doesn’t mean a lot. Edmunds is here on a one-year contract with minimal guarantees ($600,000), so the Eagles have no commitment to him as opposed to Sydney Brown, who just turned 23 and is the first d-back the Eagles have drafted in the third round or earlier since 2017. Depending how quickly Brown picks up the defense, it would make sense for the Eagles to give him reps with the first defense. Edmunds is a solid pro – he’s started 75 games and he’s only 26 – but at some point Brown will be a starter, it’s just a matter of when. There’s also this: Blankenship was very impressive in 4 ½ games in place of injured C.J.G.J. last year, but can he play at that level over a full season? The jury is still out on Blankenship. He’s very smart and tough but limited athletically, which is why he went undrafted last year. So even though he goes into camp as the starter nothing is etched in stone.

NFC East Mixtape Vol. 116: Most underrated players in the division - BGN Radio
The NFC East may have featured three playoff teams last year, but there are still players in the group that are a bit underrated. Who are those players exactly? Check out the latest episode of the NFC East Mixtape as RJ Ochoa and Brandon Gowton discuss the most underrated offensive and defensive players from each team!

A look at the Eagles’ players over 30, and their succession plan for each - PhillyVoice
Edge Brandon Graham (35): The Eagles are loaded on the edge. They have a mix of veteran leadership (Graham), a pair of impact players in their primes (Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat), and a young buck to learn from the rest of the group (Nolan Smith). Assuming Smith shows promise as a rookie, the Eagles will remain in an enviable position on the edge for a while even if this ends up being Graham’s last season as an Eagle.

A ‘smooth transition’ for D.K. McDonald -
D.K. McDonald is certainly no stranger to the defensive backs room at the NovaCare Complex. He was an integral part of a defense that last season ranked first in passing yards allowed, third in opponent passer rating, and fourth in interceptions. The “assistant” part of his previous title the past two years was removed this offseason as he was named the team’s new defensive backs coach. McDonald described the transition as a “smooth” one, joking that he just moved a few seats over in the meeting room. McDonald, who is in his third NFL season after 18 years in the college ranks, understands that “change is just a part of life and it’s part of the game.” As he gets the chance to put his own spin on the group, there are four pillars of a D.K. McDonald-led secondary that fans should watch for this season.

Carson Wentz has been throwing and studying film with Jon Gruden - PFT
It’s unclear whether and to what extent working with Gruden will make that happen. Despite his recent short-term stint with the Saints, where former Gruden pupil Derek Carr is trying to get conformable, Gruden remains persona non grata in most NFL circles. In three months since he was released, there has been no report of tangible interest in Wentz. No report of offers. No report of negotiations. The second overall pick in 2016, Wentz was dumped in consecutive years by the Eagles, the Colts, and the Commanders. If anyone was interested in Wentz as a starter, he’d already be signed. He’s good enough to be a backup, but is he ready to accept that status? Is he willing to concede that he’s no longer QB1, and to act accordingly as QB2? In the end, it might take an injury or two, or more, to create an opportunity for Wentz. Working with Gruden — and trumpeting that to the world via leaks to ESPN — won’t change that reality.

The multiple reasons Mike McCarthy is under intense pressure in 2023 - Blogging The Boys
McCarthy can do something that has never been done before by winning a Super Bowl in Dallas. As of 2023, no head coach has won a Super Bowl for multiple teams. The only coaches capable of doing such a feat this season are him, Doug Pedersen, and Sean Payton. McCarthy winning a ring in Dallas after so many years of disappointment for the franchise over the last 25 years would elevate his legacy to unimaginable heights in the minds of many. Still, this year has excessive pressure on Mike McCarthy to do something big. His contract expires next season, and if the front office isn’t satisfied after this year, they may not allow the final year to play out. If McCarthy, with play-calling duties once again as one of his responsibilities, doesn’t have this team performing at a high level, it may be time to question if he’s still got it in him to lead a team to the pinnacle again.

Rapoport — no offer yet, but Saquon Barkley and Giants are talking - Big Blue View
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport backtracked Wednesday on his prior assertion that the Giants had placed a prior contract offer to Saquon Barkley back on the table. “What I meant to say, what I should have said — I misspoke a little bit — is that the two sides have been negotiating, have been discussing.,” Rapoport said. “As far as an offer being on the table it did not sound like quite yet, so that was maybe a little premature, but they are discussing, they are back in communication with Saquon Barkley. I think the stance from the Giants has been very clear. This is a guy they want to be a member of their team for a very long time. Saquon’ stance has been the same. There is room there for a deal.”

Can Ron Rivera’s Draft Priorities Explain the State of the Commanders’ Roster? - Hogs Haven
Three years and a bit into the coach-centric rebuild, the Washington Commanders’ roster is largely a product of Ron Rivera’s making. Using Bill-in-Bangkok’s depth chart projection as a guide, only four of Washington’s 22 starters on offense and defense were on the team when Rivera was hired. They happen to be four of Washington’s best players: WR Terry McLaurin, DT Daron Payne, DT Jonathan Allen, DE Montez Sweat. After three years, the profile of Rivera’s Commanders has come into focus. They are a team with a strong defense and an offense that is, shall we say, a work in progress. In 2022, the Commanders’ defense was the 6th best in the league in Expected Points Added (EPA), 7th best in points allowed, 4th best in total yards allowed, 4th best in passing yards allowed, 11th best in rushing yards allowed and 11th best in offensive yards per play. In contrast, the offense ranked 25th in EPA and 24th in points scored, averaging just 18.9 points per game. They were also 20th in total yardage, 21st in passing yardage, 27th in yards per play, 12th worst in offensive turnovers, 6th worst in interceptions and 7th worst in sacks taken.

How NFL running backs lost their power at the negotiating table, and how they can get it back - SB Nation
It really depends on how you choose to build your team. If you want to have a bellcow back who can do what Jacobs and Barkley do, then that’s a very viable option. Expanding past the NFL though, how many of those players are still around? With 7 on 7 becoming more marketable and players switching to receiver and DB to get recruited, running back development might not be as strong as it used to be. Teams at every level are more willing to take two former receivers or safeties and turn them into running backs, and take those 220-230 pound backs and move them to linebacker as the game both spreads out and gets lighter. With the supply of backs getting lower, teams aren’t opting for cornering the market—rather, they’re ignoring the market overall, choosing to draft later round backs instead of drafting backs early or paying established backs. Football is cyclical, though. The ideas and concepts that dominate the game now aren’t new—high schools have been running the same concepts that the NFL is just getting around to for almost 20 years now. With this cyclical nature, the run game is sure to come back around. The bellcow back and bellcow back pay? That might take a few more years.


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