Thursday, July 10, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Eagles observations from OTAs

I attended two of the three Eagles OTA sessions this week. Below are some observations.

Eagles observations from OTAs

Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2012 season (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer).
Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2012 season (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer).

I attended two of the three Eagles OTA sessions this week. Below are some observations.

* The Eagles showed a look up front that we saw last year. The defensive ends moved to the middle, away from the line of scrimmage, standing up like rush linebackers, while the defensive tackles shifted outside with their hands on the ground. Today, Darryl Tapp and Brandon Graham were the defensive ends on one such snap, and Fletcher Cox and Derek Landri moved outside. The Eagles have some versatile linemen in Cox, Cullen Jenkins, Graham and Trent Cole. They were successful last year for the most part just lining up four defensive linemen and having them attack the quarterback, but perhaps we'll see more different looks this season.

* Jenkins and Jason Babin were excused absences this week, which drove home the point that the defensive line is probably the deepest unit on the team. The group has undergone quite a makeover in the past two seasons. Gone are guys like Brodrick Bunkley, Trevor Laws and Juqua Parker. In are Babin, Jenkins, Cox and Vinny Curry. The way the roster is currently constructed, no injury up front - except for probably Cole - would be devastating.

* I've hammered this point home before, but remember that Nnamdi Asomugha was not used exclusively outside as a press corner during the team's four-game winning streak at the end of last season. He still lined up in different spots, including inside opposite tight ends. One luxury the Eagles have this year, assuming they play more man coverage with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on the other side, is to have Asomugha shadow a single receiver across the formation when necessary. Today, he and Rodgers-Cromartie each took reps on the left and right sides.

* Speaking of Rodgers-Cromartie, the Eagles face a tough call on what to do about his contract. He is scheduled to be a a free agent at the end of the 2012 season. Rodgers-Cromartie is only 26 and has great athletic ability. But based on last year's body of work, the Eagles would definitely be taking a risk by extending him before the season. Then again, maybe now's the time to get him at a discounted price.

* I did not get a chance to talk to second-round pick Mychal Kendricks, but he looks like he has good cover skills, which is one of the main reasons he was so attractive to the Eagles. He did a good job on Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy on consecutive plays. When he was off the field, Kendricks didn't look interested in taking a breather. Instead, he was talking to teammates and coaches, trying to pick up the defense.

* Now would be a good time to mention that I once thought Ernie Sims looked good at OTAs, so take everything with a grain of salt please.

* Quite a few veterans will be on the roster bubble this summer: Akeem Jordan, Moise Fokou, Darryl Tapp and Joselio Hanson are four that come to mind. They combined for 1,184 snaps last season, according to Pro Football Focus, but each player will be fighting for a roster spot at Lehigh.

* Speaking of Hanson, the guy trying to take his job, Brandon Boykin, did a good job of laying out and breaking up a Mike Kafka pass intended for Chad Hall today.

* When Jason Avant was talking about Michael Vick, he referred to him simply as Seven. This really has nothing to do with anything, but I thought Jason Street and Tim Riggins might like to know.

* The Eagles spent a seventh-round pick on running back Bryce Brown and signed Chris Polk as an undrafted free agent, but I'd guess second-year back Dion Lewis is still considered the favorite to back up LeSean McCoy. If we're willing to use the He didn't get a full offseason excuse for guys like Danny Watkins, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Casey Matthews, shouldn't it apply to Lewis as well? And his issues picking up the blitz might be a bit overblown. Lewis was asked stay in as a blocker exactly seven times all of last season, per PFF, and looking back at my notes, he held up fine in protection on at least a few of those occasions.


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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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