Philadelphia Eagles training camp storylines to watch when rookies, QBs report
But for the first few days, Pederson will likely put those aims on hold.
Quarterbacks, rookies and a handful of select veterans will be in attendance Monday when the Eagles begin practices. Philadelphia will hold its first full-team workout Thursday, and until then, Pederson will be doing more mentoring than shouting, while the staff eases young players into the gauntlet that is an NFL training camp.
Still, there will be plenty to take note of during the team’s first three days of practice, even if most of its players are absent. So, here are couple storylines to keep an eye on until Thursday rolls around and the entire roster converges on South Philly.
1) Carson Wentz will aim to set a tone with his demeanor, accuracy
Wentz, the Eagles’ second-year quarterback, has taken steps this offseason to cement his status as a vocal leader. He discussed the importance of such responsibilities in front of the media, invited offensive linemen to his house in New Jersey in the spring and hosted wide receivers for several days of bonding and working out in his home state of North Dakota this summer.
The start of training camp offers Wentz the opportunity to build on that momentum and shore up his throwing mechanics.
Remember, last season, Wentz didn’t emerge as the starter until the Birds traded Sam Bradford eight days before the season opener. He also missed the final three weeks of the preseason with a rib injury. This year marks Wentz’s first chance to command the offense for an entire training camp, and he can get moving in the right direction if he’s sharp in drills and confident directing teammates over the next three days.
2) Rookie defenders Derek Barnett, Rasul Douglas can make their cases for starting jobs
During the opening few days of training camp last season, seventh-round rookie Jalen Mills padded his case for playing time with several standout performances against fellow youngsters. That helped him earn opportunities with the first-team defense once the veterans arrived, and he used that edge to carve out a significant role for the regular season.
Barnett and Douglas could use the start of training camp in a similar fashion this year. Barnett, a first-round defensive end, is in position to join the pass-rushing rotation this season and might vault into the starting lineup if he can outdo veterans Vinny Curry and Chris Long in training camp.
Douglas, meanwhile, is a third-round cornerback with enough length and skill set to excite Eagles’ coaches. Playing time is there for the taking, too, considering Philadelphia’s slim pickings in a shaky secondary.
But as rookies, Barnett and Douglas have plenty to prove — they’ll have to impress from the get-go if they want to ascend up the depth chart.
Eagles rookie defensive end Derek Barnett meets the media
3) Other young players have opportunity to shine
The Eagles’ entire rookie class is expected to attend the first three training camp practices, and several other young players will also take to the field. Recent draft picks with little to no experience or practice squad members often round out the roster of players that arrive early, which opens up room for them to impress coaches.
For example, undrafted rookie running back Corey Clement will get to carry the ball plenty out of the backfield over the next three days, assuming Darren Sproles and LeGarrette Blount aren’t around. Second-year linebackers like Joe Walker and Don Cherry are also likely to kick off training camp early, and they’ll have a shot to stand out before starters like Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham arrive at the NovaCare Complex.
And a group of unproven cornerbacks will hit the field with the aim of separating themselves within a crowded secondary.
That’s not say these youngsters won’t have chances to attract attention when the full team arrives. But the coaching staff’s focus will be divided when 90 players are scampering around the field, so players like Clement, Walker and Cherry would be best suited to make their mark over the next few days.
It’ll be worth watching to see if any lightly-touted Eagles emerge as surprise contenders for playing time.
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