The prospect of actual football news is creeping closer, with the first practice of training camp set for July 27. To get ready, I’m taking a brief look this week at the story lines at each offensive and defensive position.
Yesterday I compared these write ups to a light warm up. Maybe the better analogy would be to think of them as one of those quick recaps shown at the start of TV serials – “previously . . .” - before they pick up the story and get to the new stuff. Jeff and I will have more thorough looks at some of the key position battles starting Sunday.
Today, though, as football stirs from its summer-time nap, I’m doing a quick review of two areas where injuries are already a big factor for the Eagles: offensive line and safety.
Offensive line: The impact of Jamaal Jackson’s torn ACL last December is carrying over into this season and presents one of the biggest question marks of training camp. With Jackson expected to miss all of camp and likely a chunk of the season, who steps up in his place?
Nick Cole, who filled in for Jackson last year, will get the first shot, with Mike McGlynn and A.Q. Shipley competing for the job. McGlynn and Shipley played no snaps in 2009, giving Cole an obvious edge in experience. If Cole starts at center, however, that leaves less depth at guard.
Which brings us to Todd Herremans and Stacy Andrews. If healthy, they’ll be starting. But there is reason to worry about each. We’ve yet to see Andrews fully rebound from an ACL tear in late 2008. He was severely limited last year. With another year to recover, he now says he is “ready to rock” but full contact drills await. Herremans, meanwhile, missed most of the team’s OTAs with pain in the same foot that kept him out of five games last year. It was bad enough that he flew to Charlotte, N.C. to be checked out by a specialist, but both Herremans and the team have downplayed any problems. At guard it’s not about competition, it’s about staying healthy.
The tackle position appears stable, with Jason Peters and Winston Justice virtual locks to start.
Safety: When Marlin Jackson ruptured his Achilles tendon in practice, the injury left the Eagles with young and younger options at free safety.
Nate Allen, taken with the 37th overall pick in April’s draft, played with the first team the rest of the way through OTAs and the talented rookie from South Florida appears likely to get a chance to start right away. He will have to fend of a challenge from Quintin Demps, a third-year player who is looking for redemption after failing to lock down the job last year. Macho Harris, entering his second year but so far playing most corner back, is another fall back option.
Heading into training camp, how much of a concern is the offensive line? Do you have faith in the center options?
At safety, do you want to see what Allen can do right away? Or would you prefer to see the slightly more experienced Demps?