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Philadelphia Eagles: Positional battles to watch in training camp


Finally, football season is nearing again. As training camps start to begin, the Philadelphia Eagles have to be excited about the upcoming season. They are loaded with talent and ready to go out and defend their Super Bowl title. Before the season starts, there are some hard decisions to be made regarding the roster.

All the Corner positions
Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones. Photo by USA Today

Former slot corner Patrick Robinson is now a New Orleans Saint. That means his starting spot is available to be claimed. The Eagles have outstanding depth at the corner position which has been further bolstered by Sidney Jones, and surprise offseason performer DeVante Bausby. Ronald Darby is most likely set to keep an outside starting position, which leaves Jones and Jalen Mills competing for the other. The most likely scenario is that Jones and Darby start outside with Mills in the slot. This would mean DeVante Bausby and rookie Avonte Maddox provide depth in the slot with Rasul Douglas being the backup outside.

Training Camp should provide a much more clear picture of how the depth chart is distributed right now. In addition, it should allow a great competition for starting positions and maybe a surprise upset at one of the positions. Especially if Bausby keeps performing like he has in the spring.

Another thing to watch out for is a potential trade. Anytime a team has a position as stacked as the Eagles are at cornerback, a trade is possible. Darby and Douglas are the players that could be traded if a deal is made. This is because Darby is going into the final year of his deal. It is unlikely Philadelphia will want to pay him next offseason, especially with all the young talent on the roster and Carson Wentz’s impending deal. Douglas could be traded because he is buried on this roster, but elsewhere he could have a chance to start. So with the right compensation, a move for Douglas wouldn’t be too surprising.

Weakside linebacker spot

After the Eagles (not) surprisingly released Mychal Kendricks, the battle for the will linebacker spot began. Being the position group where Philadelphia has the least depth, it is important that at least one of the young players competing for the position develop quickly into a quality player. Luckily, the Eagles play mostly out of the nickel formation which only includes two linebackers. In this case, they would be Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham. However, when the Eagles use their base defense, one of Corey Nelson, Kamu Grugier-Hill or Nate Gerry are going to have to perform, even more so if injury-prone Hicks or Nigel Bradham go down.

Nelson is considered by many to be the favorite to win the job. However, Gerry has more than a shot at the job. He’s coming off a spring in which he looked much improved from last year. Gerry is much better in coverage due to his experience as a safety and spent the whole last year bulking up and working on his tackling to complete his transition to linebacker. His battle with offseason acquisition Corey Nelson should be an exciting one to watch.

Backup Safety
Malcom Jenkins, Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills.
Photo by Lori M. Nichols/

In 2017, the Eagles used three safeties often. This would allow them to put their best players all on the field. Malcom Jenkins would become a corner and Corey Graham would come on the field. With Graham gone now, and the secondary loaded with talent, do not expect to see as much of that this year. That doesn’t mean the third safety position is not important though. In football, as we all know, one injury could mean that the backup becomes a full-time starter.

The Eagles have loaded up on young undrafted free agents and young developmental prospects and are hoping they get lucky with one of them showing themselves to be a steal. Stephen Roberts, Jeremy Reaves and Ryan Neal are the rookies looking to earn the spot. Tre Sullivan is returning to compete as well after almost earning the spot last season. Sullivan should win the spot given that he has had a full extra year in the defense, he has shown good potential and the Eagles’ coaching staff seems to be high on him as well. A solid training camp performance could easily earn him the position.

That all being said, if no one can distance themselves from the crowd the Eagles could look to bring Corey Graham back out of retirement on a one year deal to solidify the secondary.

Featured image by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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