Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles finished their final week of organized team activities and have only one week remaining in the offseason program. The offseason will culminate with mandatory minicamp next week, and then the Eagles get five weeks off until training camp begins.
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— Zach Berman
The most important football development of the week for the Eagles was Carson Wentz's progress. The canceled White House visit obviously drew the most attention, but when the book is written on the 2018 season, Wentz's progress will be what resonates most from the spring.
Wentz is taking part in 7-on-7 workouts, but it's not just what he's doing – it's how he's doing it. Wentz is moving well for someone who's five-plus months past his injury, and as Jeff McLane wrote, he's throwing with velocity. What Wentz did on June 6 and June 7 is what I would have expected on July 26 and July 27. It's not apples to apples, but in 2015 when Sam Bradford was recovering from two years of torn ACLs, he did not move the way Wentz is this offseason with less post-surgery time.
The Eagles are still not giving a timetable, and I don't expect them to offer an estimated return date because it puts them in a box. But Wentz continues to say his hope is for a Week 1 return, and everything I've seen this spring would persuade me that he'll be out there against Atlanta more than it would dissuade me.
One area the Eagles can improve from last year's Super Bowl team is special teams. That was something that Doug Pederson identified after the season. So what does special teams leader Chris Maragos think?
"The biggest thing we can do is build off a lot of the things we did last year that were good," Maragos said. "We had a lot of young guys playing in positions that had a lot of really good experience. It's going to really serve us well this year. …So much about special teams is about playing together and cohesiveness."
Look for Kamu Grugier-Hill and Mack Hollins to be special teams standouts. Gone are staples such as Trey Burton and Najee Goode. The Eagles added linebackers LaRoy Reynolds and Corey Nelson, both of whom can help on special teams. Fourth-round pick Avonte Maddox is another player who can contribute.
"[Reynolds] does a lot of great things – runs well, has a great tenacity, I think a lot of the Philly fans are going to be excited about that," Maragos said. "Corey Nelson, a really smooth athlete. …I think you'll see Maddox out there doing a lot of things. Really explosive guy, does a lot. He's learning a lot. I think with experience, he'll…be great."
The mandatory minicamp next week will be the final three practices of the spring before training camp. Michael Bennett and Darren Sproles should be in attendance, although I don't know how much Sproles will do. Certainly, Bennett will be an attraction if he speaks to reporters after practice. I'm also curious to speak with Sproles about his decision to return for another year and also the way he fits on this team. (One thing I want to know is whether he'd consider adding kick-return responsibilities because of the way kickoffs changed with new rules.)
On the field, it remains an important week for down-the-depth chart players. They get a lot of work during the spring. During the summer – especially as the preseason progresses – there's more focus on lineup competition and preparing for the season.
The player whose stock has probably ascended the most this spring is cornerback De'Vante Bausby. He can finish his offseason program on a good note next week and will be in legitimate competition for a roster spot during the summer. The depth at cornerback is so much different than it was one year ago.
I'm impressed with Dallas Goedert. You can see the size and the hands already. He made a nice catch down the seam during Thursday's session. What the Eagles saw him do at South Dakota State has already translated, especially being a target in the middle of the field. It changes when pads come on and I can't really tell how his blocking is yet, but there's reason to be optimistic about him as a receiver. And I do think he'll get a decent chunk of playing time. If Zach Ertz stays healthy, I can see Goedert taking about 30 percent of the offensive snaps. That would go up if Ertz suffers an injury.
I don't think it's a major issue. Both players are established veterans who have missed OTAs before. In Michael Bennett's case, of course you'd want a new player there. Then again, I don't think he's someone who needs to "learn" the defense. He knows what he needs to do. He missed OTAs in Seattle, too. If this was a younger player, I might say otherwise. But I've learned not to overreact to OTA absences, unless there's a bigger problem festering (such as a contract dispute) or if it's the quarterback.