Andy Reid takes the mic at 5 p.m. Monday for the official start of Eagles training camp.
I'll be headed up to Lehigh tomorrow afternoon to add to philly.com's Eagles coverage. But first, here's a touchdown's worth of thoughts/predictions/guesses about what we're going to see over the next three weeks:
1. I think the veterans who are in camp battles will hold on to their starting jobs. Specifically, I'm talking about Nick Cole at center and Hank Baskett at the fourth wide receiver position. Every year at camp, readers ask which players "look good." It's an easier question to answer for wide receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks and cornerbacks. It's a much more difficult question to answer for linemen. That bring us to Cole. Other than an injury or poor work habits, I can't really see what would cause the Eagles' staff to sit Cole in favor of one of his backups. I feel pretty confident saying he'll be the starting center Week 1 against the Packers.
I'm less confident with Baskett, but I still think he holds on to the job. I thought Riley Cooper looked good at OTAs, but I wouldn't say he looked better than Baskett, who had some impressive moments. Baskett will have a better grasp of the offense and be the guy the Eagles trust to be on the field - at least early in the season.
2. I think right cornerback is one position where we'll be able to tell quite a bit about how the guys are performing. Even if Ellis Hobbs wins the job at camp, I don't think it will be his all season. The question is: Who can take it from him? That's one of the things I'm most looking forward to keeping an eye on.
3. I think that when the national reporters stop by, most will write similarly-themed articles about the 2010 Eagles. They will focus around the changing of the guard at quarterback and Kevin Kolb's first year as a starter. I think the national guys who have had limited contact with Kolb in the past will come away impressed, and by the time the season starts, it will be difficult to find a national reporter or TV peronality who predicts that Kolb is not up for the challenge.
4. I think it's probably more important for Nate Allen to be at camp on time than Brandon Graham. Allen is being counted on to start at safety, and he didn't get all the reps there at OTAs until after Marlin Jackson went down. The learning process is probably more important to Allen than any other Eagles defensive player over the next three weeks. I was impressed with Allen at OTAs, but it's critical for him to be on the field from the start at Lehigh.
5. One of the players I most want to see in pads is Ernie Sims. The Eagles' new weak-side linebacker looked quick to the ball in shorts, but how will he perform when the Eagles' offensive linemen are looking to take him to the ground?
6. Last year, during the first week of camp, the attention was on Sheldon Brown. Would he show up on time? Would he speak to the media? Would he be a distraction? This year, reporters will gather around two guys: DeSean Jackson and Michael Vick. Vick will be peppered with questions about the shooting. And Jackson will be asked about his contract. I don't expect Vick to say anything noteworthy or go into details - instead, he'll just talk about how excited he is for football. As for Jackson, I don't think he'll make a fuss publicly about his contract and will look like the best player on either side of the ball at Lehigh for the second year in a row.
7. Other random questions I have for this team: How is Todd Herremans' foot holding up? Can Cornelius Ingram contribute? What kind of leap can second-year guys LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin make? Where in his recovery is Stewart Bradley? What did Sean McDermott learn in his first year as defensive coordinator? What will Andy Reid do differently with no Donovan McNabb? Macho Harris, Joselio Hanson, Trevard Lindley - can anyone step up?
Should be a fun time. We'll have blog posts, stories, columns, videos, chats and more starting Monday. As always, if there's anything specific you're looking for out of our coverage, feel free to let me know.
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