All eyes were on Brandom Graham today, as the Eagles first round pick made his first appearance at training camp after ending his holdout. While the rookie defensive end may be the media darling at the moment, Graham is in the midst of a heated competition for a starting spot on the defensive line.
In fact, competition for starting spots could be fierce in several places for Andy Reid’s young Eagles squad. “We’re trying to present it at every position. That’s what Howie Roseman does with his crew, and I think there’s some situations there where there’s going to be good competition.”
That’s particularly the case at defensive end, where Juqua Parker, Darryl Tapp and Graham are all battling for a starting spot and Ricky Sapp and Daniel Te’o-Nesheim hope to make the roster. Trent Cole is locked in at one defensive end spot. At defensive tackle,e Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley are slotted in to start. Trevor Laws, Antonio Dixon, Boo Robinson and Jeff Owens all hope to land on the roster.
Reid is happy to have the depth at a position he values highly, “If I can come out of there with eight guys who can play, two at each spot, I’m great with that. If there’s more, the more the merrier. You can’t have enough defensive lineman. I like to rotate those guys and throw those fastballs at the offense.”
The main reason there’s so much competition on defense is the youth, and one of the youngsters shined today even in non-contact drills. Rookie safety Nate Allen came up with two interceptions off of third string quarterback Mike Kafka, who struggled against the first string defense. Allen was known as a ballhawking safety at South Florida and showed why today.
On the offensive side of the ball, Kevin Kolb was all business from the moment he walked onto the field. The signal caller strode onto the field with his chin strap already buckled, and kept a serious demeanor through practice. Kolb ran the offense smoothly, with nearly every pass looking crisp.
The Birds showed some offensive creativity with the first string, as Kolb connected with DeSean Jackson for a touchdown on a flea flicker. A few plays later, the Eagles offense ran a double reverse. The wideouts as a group shined throughout practice, with the highlight being a one handed diving catch in the endzone by Jason Avant.
That said, as Andy Reid acknowledged in his press conference, it’s difficult to tell much about how anybody will produce until the pads go on and the hitting begins. Time will tell – we’re now less than 12 hours away from the first full pad, full team practice.
DeSean Jackson continued his media silence, with head coach Andy Reid commenting that the wide receiver was focused on football and ready to produce.
Reid also confirmed that he still plans to use Jackson as his top punt returner. Chad Hall, Ellis Hobbs, Jeremy Maclin and Macho Harris also fielded punts this afternoon.
Eagles guard Max Jean-Gilles came into camp around 50 pounds lighter after undergoing lap-band surgery. It didn’t go unnoticed by Reid, “It looks like he’s ready to pose for Esquire. He’s lookin’ good. He looks good. And that’ll help Max, Max is a good football player.”
Training Camp Coverage
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