Philadelphia Eagles OTAs: 3 big storylines to watch
Alshon Jeffery and the Eagles new-look receiving corps could begin to take shape this week. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
The Philadelphia Eagles won’t play a meaningful game for nearly four months, but they’re entering a crucial few weeks of the offseason.
The Birds take the field for the start of organized team activities Tuesday, and they’ll hold ten of those voluntary practices. Philly will then run its mandatory three-day minicamp from June 13 to 15.
These workouts offer the team its first chance to go through real practices — contact is prohibited, but the Eagles will conduct 11-on-11 drills — and give players the opportunity to begin building chemistry or finding specific roles.
With that in mind, here are three storylines to keep an eye on.
1) How will the new-look receiving corps take shape?
The Eagles signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith in free agency this offseason before drafting Mack Hollins in the fourth round and Shelton Gibson in the fifth.
That’s a lot of new names, and several familiar faces also enter training camp shrouded in controversy. Jordan Matthews emerged as a potential trade candidate this offseason, while Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham are suddenly in position to scrape for roster spots after serving as starters in 2016.
That leaves various questions exist as to how the receiving corps will shake out. Will Jeffery regain his Pro Bowl form in Philadelphia? Does Smith have productive seasons left? And which young player will wind up as the odd man out?
The next few weeks should provide the first inklings of answers, though mystery could linger into training camp.
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2) Which cornerbacks will emerge as favorites to start?
Last year during OTAs, Jalen Mills showed flashes of potential, while Eric Rowe struggled to impress defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. A couple months later, the Birds traded Rowe to New England and thrust Mills into a prominent role at cornerback as a seventh-round rookie.
With Philly’s depth chart at corner still murky as the regular season inches closer, there’s room for another standout to rocket toward relevance. Third-round pick Rasul Douglas is probably the most interesting cornerback entering OTAS, because his 6-foot-2 frame could help him land a starting role immediately. But Patrick Robinson, Dwayne Gratz, C.J. Smith and a cast of other players will also be vying for coaches’ attention this offseason.
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3) Will we get any answers about the offensive line?
The Eagles tried to find a trading partner to take center Jason Kelce this offseason, according to reports, and they signed his potential backup, Stefan Wisniewski, to a lucrative three-year deal. Plus, uncertainty exists regarding the left guard spot, with Wisniewski, Isaac Seumalo, Allen Barbre and Chance Warmack all options to start there.
It can be difficult to glean much about offensive linemen during non-contact practice, but perhaps some hints about the Eagles’ long-term plans will emerge.
If Seumalo plays first-team snaps at left guard or Wisniewski spends more time at center, for instance, it might offer some clues of what to expect.
And this time of year, that’s often all football fans and reporters can hope for.
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