Sunday, February 7, 2016

Who did best at Lehigh?

With the Lehigh portion of training camp over, it's time to take a look at the best performances by the Eagles veterans so far.

Who did best at Lehigh?

Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie tackles Jonathan Dwyer. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie tackles Jonathan Dwyer. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

With the Lehigh portion of training camp over, it's time to take a look at the best performances by the Eagles veterans so far. (Here's a look at the team's top eight rookies who may see playing time this season.)

The backup tight ends: Third-year vet Clay Harbor thrived in camp, particularly in Brent Celek's absence because of a mild MCL sprain in his right knee. Harbor needed a strong showing since his performance at the Organized Team Activities in the spring was dreadful.

Now quarterback Michael Vick has the confidence to throw to Harbor in a crowd, across the middle, to the sideline--Harbor made all the catches. When camp began, the team pursued Visanthe Shiancoe and was rumored to be considering Jeremy Shockey. No more. Harbor proved his case and will see time subbing in for Celek and also in two tight-end sets.

Similarly, Brett Brackett, who spent the 2011 season on the practice squads of both Jacksonville and the Eagles, showed he's picking up the nuances of being a tight end. He was a wide receiver at Penn State.

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"I think I need to work on a little bit of everything," Brackett said. "I never played tight end until I got to the NFL, so I'm just trying to get better every day. Getting the reps and doing the best I can."

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: From the start, DRC showed why he shouldn't have played so much slot coverage last season. Out wide, he shut down DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin routinely, picked off passes, and proved to be a nuisance for the offense. Perhaps the only bad judgment DRC made all camp was going with a green mohawk a few days into camp.

As Vick told Les Bowen early in camp, "It's hard to throw against him. He's fast, man. He can jump routes, quick, smart. It's clear he should have been on the outside last year."

Chad Hall: The third-year wide receiver must be using old-school, Lester Hayes-style Stickum on his hands because he caught everything thrown his way. He looks most promising as a slot receiver, but the trick may be finding a roster spot for him.

He and DeSean Jackson handled the majority of punt returns last year, but rookie Damaris Johnson is the leading candidate now, with Jackson as a spot backup if needed. Hall could also be used as a kickoff returner, but Brandon Boykin and Johnson can handle that role. The Eagles would need to keep six receivers or pull some roster voodoo for Hall to stay: Jackson, Maclin, Jason Avant, injured Riley Cooper, and Johnson seem in, with Hall the odd man out if only five make the roster.

The kickers: Speaking of possible victims of numbers, welcome to the club, Chas Henry. The Eagles brought in two-time Pro Bowler Mat McBriar and then installed him as the top guy on the depth chart. However, Henry, the second-year punter who struggled at times last season, responded to the challenge and is giving McBriar a battle.

Tuesday, the two were on a side field booming kicks. As Henry said earlier about the showdown with McBriar, "He's a good guy, and I have no hard feelings. I'd love to stay in Philly, I love the town, the community, the organization, so we'll see how it goes. But I understand that's part of the business."

And although kicker Alex Henery has no competition, he has had a stellar camp, drilling short and long field-goal attempts and showing he can drive the ball on kickoffs. The 51-yard game-winner against the Steelers would have been good from up to 60 yards.

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