The prospect of actual football news is creeping closer, with the first practice of training camp set for July 27.
To get ready, I’m going to take a brief look this week at the storylines at each offensive and defensive position. We’ll do one area on each side of the ball per day.
Today it’s a picture of contrast: stability and a wealth of talent at wide receiver and tight end, compared to change and a very large hole to fill at corner back.
Wide receivers/tight ends: This is one of the strongest areas of the team, with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant leading the way among receivers. Hank Baskett (at 6-4) and Riley Cooper (6-3) are two big targets also fighting for roster spots and playing time.
At tight end, Brent Celek is a lock to start and is part of a core of young weapons. Back up Cornelius Ingram, trying to return from two ACL tears, will face a challenge from fourth round pick Clay Harbor.
The most intriguing story among the pass catching bunch might be that of Chad Hall, a lightning quick receiver from Air Force generously listed at 5-8 whose size and story – he spent part of OTAs flying back and forth from Philadelphia to Air Force duty in Salt Lake City – have made him something of a media favorite. He faces a tough road to make the roster, though.
The only potential flare up here could be Jackson’s contract situation. He sat out a week of voluntary OTAs and while neither he nor is agent has said much about it, such moves often send a signal about money. Jackson, who is still on his initial second-round deal, has so far said all the right things about being patient as he waits for a contract that reflects his status as a top flight play maker. The Inquirer’s Bob Ford and Daily News’ Marcus Hayes discussed the contract issue in a video you can find here.
Corner backs: Asante Samuel, with his long hair, constant barking and knack for interceptions, will always draw attention. But the biggest story at corner back will be across the field as the Eagles try to find someone to pair with him.
This is one position with a truly wide open competition. Former Patriot Ellis Hobbs seems likely to get the first shot, but he is coming back from surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. Also in the running is Macho Harris, a college corner who spent most of his rookie season at safety. Behind them are Joselio Hanson, who has said he wants to start, and Trevard Lindley, a fourth round draft pick who made a few nice pass break ups in off-season practices.
Finding the answer here will be key before the Eagles embark on a schedule that features Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo and (it seems safe to say) Brett Favre, not to mention a certain number five in Washington.
I’m keeping this brief, because Jeff and I are coming back next week with a much closer look at several crucial position battles, including the one at corner. Consider this a pre-camp warm up.
What do you all think about the Eagles’ corner back options? On first impression, who would you like to see facing off against Rodgers Sept. 12?
And how do you think the Eagles should approach Jackson, reward him for his first two years and lock up his talent, or hold him to his existing contract?