Thursday, November 27, 2014
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Mailbag: LBs, Harbor and Shipley

Answering your Tweets, e-mails and questions from the last two weeks of Eagles OTAs at the Novacare complex.

Mailbag: LBs, Harbor and Shipley

LB Moise Fokou will likely be the starting strong-side linebacker. (Clem Murray/Staff file photo)
LB Moise Fokou will likely be the starting strong-side linebacker. (Clem Murray/Staff file photo)

I wanted to get to some e-mails and Tweets I haven't been able to respond to in the last couple weeks.

Feel free to e-mail me if you like and we can make this a weekly feature.

@RL219: Sheil, make some predictions on the LB position.

Let's start in the middle. Stewart Bradley is the guy. He missed some of OTAs with a calf injury, but Andy Reid said he's expected to be back at the start of training camp. We'll see how he looks in pads at Lehigh for the first time in almost a year. Behind Bradley are Omar Gaither and Joe Mays. Mays and Gaither split time in the middle when Bradley was out last week. We saw a similar situation play out last preseason, but unless Mays has made serious strides, I'd put Gaither ahead of him on the depth chart.

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On the weak side, Ernie Sims got all the first-team reps. Behind him is Akeem Jordan. I'd guess that's how it's going to play out, but I would think Jordan has at least an outside shot to win his job back.

And on the strong side, it's going to be Moise Fokou. I'm interested to see how Fokou does with a full offseason of first-team reps under his belt. I think he's the kind of guy who could really benefit from that. I don't see much competition for that spot. If Fokou goes down, the Eagles would have to do some shuffling. It's been rookie Keenan Clayton running with the second team.

@whoaleckna: Can we get a Cornelius Ingram v. Clay Harbor small distinction in the next piece? Love the work you do, Sheil. Thanks, be well.

First of all, thanks. Much appreciated. As I've stated several times, I'm anxious to see how these two fit in. Ingram definitely has the edge at this point behind Brent Celek. But Harbor spoke pretty confidently about his ability as a blocker. It wouldn't surprise me to see either guy line up in the slot or out wide at times. They're both big targets. Harbor is listed at 6-3, Ingram 6-4.

@nick_waters: Is Hank Baskett getting reps as the third WR or is he taking reps from Jeremy Maclin/Jason Avant?

When Maclin and DeSean Jackson were out, Baskett and Avant were the two starters with the first team, but the Eagles like Avant in the slot. When they went to three-wide, Avant moved inside. Maclin stayed on the field when he was healthy.

As I said earlier in the week, Baskett really did a good job last week.

@bigmike317: You need DTv man...I saw the whole FNLights season already, no comm. w/ extended scenes on T101... it gets even better.

A: DirecTV? I wouldn't be able to watch any home-team sports. Can't do it, Big Mike. That would be tempting though for early viewing of FNL.

Tremendous return from Lyla Garrity this week, by the way. She's allllll-right. Too bad it was only a one-episode run.

Eric: I don't know that much about WR Pat Simonds other than his size (which looks great). I have always hoped that the Eagles could get a tall, rangy receiver who could out-reach and out-muscle defenders in the end zone. Do you see him as a "keeper" for the Eagles? I know it is tough to make that kind of judgment this early. But, maybe you saw something in him at the OTAs.

A: Simonds is the guy who almost took out Joe Banner on the sidelines this week. And coincidentally, he was cut a few days later...

Robert: What's up with that kid from Penn State, A.Q. Shipley? If Nick Cole winds up at LG, could he be the starting center until Jamaal Jackson gets back?

A: I think Cole is going to be the starting center. Left guard is Todd Herremans' job, unless he's injured. As for Shipley, tough to say what his chances are to make the team. Mike McGlynn is ahead of him on the depth chart.

JimmyJ: Huh? The Eagles seldom blitz their LBs. Not since the days when Jeremiah Trotter could still play. Chris Gocong had four sacks in three years as a starter. Stewart Bradley had only one in his year as a starter. Akeem Jordan had one sack in two years as a starter. Sheil, what planet are you on?

Here's the deal. Since 2003, the only year an Eagle LB has had two sacks was in 2008, when Omar Gaither and Gocong had two each. Not since Nate Wayne in 2003 has an Eagles LB had three sacks. In the old days, early Trotter and Carlos Emmons, it used to happen every year, but back then the LBs weren't other teams' rejects and low-round fill-ins. Sorry Sheil, I was just bored enough to look it up. So forget about the Eagles' LBs on the blitz, or at least forget about them actually getting there if they do!

A: I like that you took the time to do some research, JimmyJ, but I have to disagree on a couple fronts. First of all, you can't just measure pressure with sacks. A blitz can be effective without resulting in a sack. Maybe it causes an interception or an incompletion on third down, bringing the punt team on the field.

As for frequency of Eagles linebackers blitzing, take a look at this post from after the Giants' game last season. The Eagles blitzed 15 times in that game, and on 12 of those, Sean McDermott sent at least one linebacker. Linebacker Will Witherspoon blitzed more than any other player. That's only one example, but McDermott sent linebackers pretty often last season.


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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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