As training camp begins, the Eagles only seem to have a few spots in play as far as starters go, unless you want to get into the semantic discussion of three “starting cornerbacks” should the Eagles open with Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard all on the field at once. Along with left guard and fullback, there are some other interesting battles worth watching this summer at Lehigh:
* Left guard: Todd Herremans needs to hold off a challenge from Max Jean-Gilles. Herremans did better with the offseason conditioning than Jean-Gilles, who still shows signs of being a massive force. Jean-Gilles, a fourth-round pick in 2006, is huge at 6-3, 358 and got some playing time last season, appearing in four games with one start for the injured Shawn Andrews. Herremans has been the starter the last two seasons at left guard, but played tackle at Saginaw Valley State and in his first season with the Eagles. If Herremans retains his starting position and either Jon Runyan or Tra Thomas gets hurt, don't be surprised if Herremans moves over to tackle and Jean-Gilles comes in at guard. That scenario also could be in the Eagles’ future, given the ages of Runyan and Thomas and the lingering questions about Winston Justice.
* Fullback: The Eagles don’t use the fullback that often, but someone will have to play there. The Birds acquired Luke Lawton from Indianapolis in a trade during the spring. That ended the Dan Klecko experiment as Klecko moved back to defense. The battle is between Lawton and Jason Davis. Davis, who spent last season on the practice squad, is a better runner, but that just isn't the job here. Lawton appeared in 11 games last season as a reserve running back, fullback and special teamer with the Colts. The Eagles are his fifth organization after stints with Buffalo, the Giants and Jets, and Indianapolis. Most of his previous career has been spent on the practice squad.
* Reserve wide receivers: The Eagles added DeSean Jackson and will shed somebody from the group behind starters Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown. As you might have heard somewhere, they don't have a lot of star-quality wideouts, but they do have several serviceable fourth-receiver types who could catch on elsewhere if they don't make it here. They might even be able to get something (not much, but something) for one of them in a trade. Who's on the bubble? I'd say Jason Avant and Greg Lewis, maybe both if Bam Childress or undrafted rookie Jamal Jones make the team. For some reason, I think Hank Baskett sticks around.
* Third tight end: You figure L.J. Smith and Brent Celek are set, so Matt Schobel and newcomer Kris Wilson are fighting for the one remaining spot. Schobel is the incumbent, but could be out if Wilson has a good camp. Wilson signed a 3-year deal in the offseason after spending 4 years with the Kansas City Chiefs, who selected him in the second round in 2004. He caught 24 passes for 180 yards and one touchdown last season, and has 42 receptions for 342 yards for his career.
* Reserve running back: The Eagles carried four running backs last season, and one of them was return man Reno Mahe. The no-brainers are that Brian Westbrook and Lorenzo Booker are in. Presumably, that leaves two spots for Tony Hunt, Correll Buckhalter and Ryan Moats. Moats needs a miracle to make the team. I hope Correll Buckhalter doesn't, because he has been such a valiant warrior.
* Darren Howard: He spent time as both a defensive end and a defensive tackle during his disappointing tenure with the Birds thus far. If he is going to make the team this year, it would have to be at tackle, where he could be part of the mix behind Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson. Veteran Kimo von Oelhoffen, Montae Reagor, now-undersized Dan Klecko and rookie Trevor Laws would be the competition for the remaining spots.
In other Eagles related news, or former Eagles related news, linebacker Takeo Spikes visited the Detroit Lions last week, the Detroit Free Press is reporting. With training camps upon us, Spikes is still looking for work. The Eagles released Spikes in March.
The Eagles' problem is usually not needing to throw the ball even more, but ... The Birds have brought in former Delaware quarterback and current Arena League standout Matt Nagy, of the Columbus Destroyers, as their intern QB coach for the summer.