The practice fields at Lehigh University are quiet now. The throngs of reporters and fans who came out to catch a glimpse of the new look Eagles have returned home to Philly, where the most hyped team in football is now gearing up for a nationally televised contest with the defending AFC champions. From now on, training camp will continue beneath the sealed dome of the NovaCare Complex, as coaches and players begin the dead serious final weeks of preparation for the 2011 season. Jobs will be won and lost. Leaders and stars will be born. And the finalized depth chart will be cast in stone, marking an end to the most turbulent and exciting offseason in NFL history.
A number of questions still lay unanswered. A much anticipated update on the health and status of Jeremy Maclin did not come today, despite dozens of reports to the contrary. Key players like Winston Justice, Trevor Laws and Mike Patterson are still rehabbing injuries and will once again sit for this week’s game. We still don’t know who will start at right tackle or free safety, and we don’t know if our newest offensive weapon will even see the field before November.
Some questions, however, have finally been laid to rest. Desean Jackson will return to the lineup this Thursday in Pittsburgh, and from his and the front office’s recent comments it looks like he will be getting a new contract after all. According to Andy Reid, Jackson, Vick, and the rest of the ones will be playing the entire first half on Thursday, and I have no doubt the most dangerous QB/WR combo in football will pick up right where they left off last year.
My biggest concern, however, is that right tackle Ryan Harris will be sitting out due to back spasms. This means King Dunlap will be protecting Vick’s blind side for thirty consecutive minutes. If you’re a regular ITI reader, you should know by now how I feel about King, and I’m more than a little worried about trusting him with our entire season against one of the most dominant D-lines in the league. These are the guys who were fined about 60 million dollars last year for knocking people silly and then laughing about it. James Harrison doesn’t care this is a meaningless preseason game. Here’s hoping that Andy’s primary objective this week is getting out of Pittsburgh alive, and his gameplan involves a lot of quick passes and hand-offs.
Check back tomorrow for our in-depth breakdown of the matchup, along with an interesting take on the global ramifications of the new CBA from our British correspondent Brian Mathieson.
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