Thursday, August 21, 2014
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Eagles Rookie Watch

Here’s the latest of our regular check-ins on Eagles rookies in training camp.

Eagles Rookie Watch

Philadelphia Eagles rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks is expected to start this season. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)
Philadelphia Eagles rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks is expected to start this season. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz)

Here’s the latest of our regular check-ins on Eagles rookies in training camp.

Several of the Eagles rookie class has to feel satisfied with how the first week-plus of training camp has gone. One advantage this year’s group has over last year’s is the additional hours spent during the Organized Team Activities earlier in the year.

“We had 10 to 12 weeks with [this year’s rookie class], and [last year’s] young guys only had a month or five weeks,” said defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. “That’s five more weeks of two or three hours of work than our rookies from last year had.”

That difference should help Mychal Kendricks as he attempts to become a rookie starting linebacker after Casey Matthews struggled last year.

“The biggest difference is all the time [Kendricks] had in the offseason,” Castillo said. “In the offseason, you’re able to break down one concept and one coverage. You can do that the whole day. They were able to understand not only the concepts but also the weaknesses of the coverage. Everything has a weakness and everything has a strength. That has helped Mychal a lot and Casey didn’t have that.”

Rookie defensive end Vinny Curry is seeing unexpected first-team time with the injury to Jason Babin.

“It’s definitely a good feeling. Any rep is good,” Curry said. “This is the NFL, the best of the best, so I just try to get better every day.”

Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox will see significant time even though the Eagles defensive line rotation looks extremely deep and talented.

“Fletcher is going to be really good,” said fellow defensive tackle Derek Landri. “He’s young, and he’s getting better each and every day.”

Count on seeing those top three Eagles picks the most, especially early in the season. At this point, other rookie contributions figure to come on special teams.

Special teams coordinator Bobby April said he does not expect DeSean Jackson to be the primary punt returner, which leaves open the door for rookie Damaris Johnson, who was first in line for the drills on Monday.

“I feel like I took advantage of any opportunity I got and I’m trying to get better,” Johnson said.

And Brandon Boykin could wind up as the primary kickoff return man. Both Boykin and Johnson have the shifty, quick moves common among the best returners.

Among other rookies, seventh-rounder Bryce Brown has shown promise. During one drill, coach Duce Staley loved how Brown read the defensive end’s reaction to a play and bounced outside to open space. Turning to the players watching, Staley said, "Backs, did you see that?”

Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has noticed. “Bryce has had an excellent camp to date.”

And it will be interesting to see how sixth-rounder Marvin McNutt responds to the increased opportunity after an injury to yet another wide receiver. Riley Cooper and Ron Johnson will both missed extended portions of camp.

Asked if any young wide receivers have caught his eye, Michael Vick said, “Yeah, a couple of them. McNutt has definitely played well ... It’s going to be great watching them in the preseason when there are live bullets, so we’ll see what happens.”

There are currently 23 rookies in camp, with the first cut-down date set for August 28th, when teams have to get to 80 players. Teams then have to cut to the 53-man roster by September 2. 

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For news, stats, video, live chats and more, Red Zone is the place to find Eagles coverage you can't get anywhere else. Reach Jimmy at jkempski@philly.com.

Jimmy Kempski Philly.com
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