Can Rasul Douglas and Derek Barnett crack the Eagles’ starting lineup?

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 10: Greyson Lambert
KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 10: Greyson Lambert /

Expect everyone to be paying attention to what Rasul Douglas and Derek Barnett are doing during Eagles training camp.

Perhaps he’s tired of being labeled as the wrong guy for the job. Maybe he’s been dubbed as being too lenient on players more times than he’d like. Whatever the reason, Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has been vocal about his plans. He intends for this year’s version of training camp to be a physical one. A ton of eyes will be on the Eagles defense, and that means some of the newer faces are going to be mentioned often. Enter rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas and fellow rookie and defensive end Derek Barnett.

When practice begins on Monday, July 24th, a few of the veterans, the quarterbacks and the rookies will be in attendance. The entire team won’t be working out until Thursday. The goal for the first few days of camp will be focusing on the young guys. Veteran players and coaches will look to ease them in. They’ll all hope to assist in the education process of what’s to be expected in navigating through the rigors of what’s to be expected of an NFL athlete. Douglas and Barnett will be given plenty of opportunities to make names for themselves.

What we know so far:

The favorites to start at the cornerback position are newly-acquired Patrick Robinson and second-year vet Jalen Mills. What’s expected of the former is uncertain. He’s proven he can play in the NFL, but unfortunately, he’s also coming off of an injury. Whether he can return to form is anyone’s guess.

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The latter made a name for himself at this same time a season ago. The 2016 regular season allowed him to show more of that promise, but it also revealed there were a few chinks in the armor. The rest of the current names on the Eagles roster at cornerback consists of unproven talent and guys who are seen as bandages. Again, Douglas, who’s already seen some time scrimmaging with the starters, will be given some opportunities.

As far as Barnett’s chances go, the belief is three names can almost assuredly be penciled in as starters along the defensive front. Those names belong to Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan, but that also leaves competition at one starting defensive end position open. That figures to lead to a pretty intense battle between Vinny Curry (who everybody’s waiting to take the next step), newly-acquired Chris Long and the rookie, Barnett. Irregardless of how it turns out, the most comforting thing is the Eagles’ defensive line is the deepest it’s been in a while.

The secondary, on the other hand, has a ton of holes. Douglas and Barnett figure to play important roles in 2017, and a solid camp and preseason could result in even more playing time for two of the young guys this team is very excited about.