What I’ll be watching closely at Eagles training camp:
One of the big themes of the 2018 camp will be health.
Not just Carson Wentz’s knee rehab progress — that’s important, of course — but the wear and tear of a 19-game championship season was apparent all winter and spring, throughout the roster.
Though not a lot was made of it during the spring work, several guys haven’t been on the field yet this year who really need to be healthy and good for the Eagles to defend their first Super Bowl title.
When minicamp ended June 14, defensive end Brandon Graham was still hobbling after ankle surgery. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery wasn’t fully cleared after shoulder surgery. Cornerback Sidney Jones, the 2017 second-round rookie who spent the Super Bowl season working his way back from Achilles surgery, missed minicamp with mysterious “lower body soreness.” Haloti Ngata, the defensive tackle the Eagles signed after losing Beau Allen in free agency, was still recovering from biceps tendon surgery that ended his 2017 season in Detroit after five games. Tim Jernigan, the starting DT opposite Fletcher Cox last season, was nowhere to be found after May surgery for a herniated disk; Jernigan is unlikely to see the field before the start of the regular season on Sept. 6. Running back/returner Darren Sproles was on the field last month, but was easing his way back from last season’s arm and knee injuries.
And there were as many as a half-dozen non-headliners who weren’t ready to compete for roster spots, including safety/special teams ace Chris Maragos, still rehabbing from extensive knee surgery last October, and undrafted rookie running back Josh Adams, from Notre Dame, who probably would have been drafted had a hairline fracture in his right foot not been detected at the NFL scouting combine.
Fans seemed very interested in the progress of the 6-2, 225-pound Adams, a graduate of Central Bucks South. Reporters kept having to explain that there wasn’t any progress to report, that Adams was watching from the sideline. The Eagles have a very solid running-back corps, and missing the spring makes Adams a long shot to earn a spot on the active roster.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson talked about Graham, Jeffery and Jernigan at the end of minicamp; he spoke of “inching toward” opening day.
“Camp is going to be real important,” Pederson said. “Really, for these three guys we’re talking about, even these next five weeks are going to be important through their rehab leading up to camp.”
On Wednesday, when the Eagles report, we’ll start to get an idea of how different the roster might look on the field vs. how it looks on paper, where the team seems quite capable of defending its title.