Friday, July 27, 2007

Training Camp is Here!

The drought is over!
Eagles news can flow once again.
Are you psyched? - You should be
Are you hopeful? - damn skippy
Are you still wondering how the the various issues (injuries, rookies, roster spots) surrounding the Birds will play out? you bet

But we'll finally start to get seeing some answers.

Now this has lead to the usually pre-camp/day of opening "what to watch for articles"

Here are a few I found useful:
Ray Diddy's piece for Comcast - I really like what he had to say about Stewart Bradley.
Les Bowen's piece, which doesn't offer much new, except for the fact that he links to Donovan McNabb's BLOG! I'll go check it out after I post this.
And of course the coverage from Wherein I first read that Andy Reid said during his opening press conference that Donovan will wear a knee brace (as added insurance during camp) but that during the season he expects they won't have it on (that's both a good sign AND a little bit of a risk).

Okay, so now that I've given you some good links, you probably asking, alright dude, but what do YOU think? (and if not, why'd you come here? Both of you, I mean it)...well here are my top issues for the 2007 training camp:

Team-wide: Injuries. Okay so this one is easy, almost too easy. The franchise QB is on the mend from a torn-ACL....and let's face it, no realistic SuperBowl aspirations will be reached if Donovan is not able to come back strong. Can they be a dangerous team with A.J. at QB, sure, they beat a few teams with him, but I'm much less confident about being able to make a legit-run at things with our second-string (not unless the Eagles do a complete 180 and become a running team with a rock-solid D...hmm, don't hold you breath, the 2007 Eagles are not going to transform into the 2005 Steelers during August.)

Its also easy to forget that there are two other key players returning from injury: Jevon Kearse (who its thought might've been able to return, late, late last year {if of course, the Eagles had gone deep enough AND he wasn't already on IR}) So what does that mean? It means Kearse's injury occurred so early into the '06 campaign that he's the farthest along in his rehab. The opposite is true for the final in our injury trio: TE L.J. Smith, who had surgery to repair the dreaded "sports hernia" this off-season. Matter of fact, it looks like L.J. is the only Eagle that will be limited as camp starts (considering that some teams have already lost players to some injuries, etc, its not a bad start).

Other key issues, by department:
Offense - not many big question marks on the offense side of the ball (other than the injuries one I just spent two paragraphs yammering about). Two things strike me:
1. How will our new "big backs" look. If you're like me and lamented the fact that the Eagles didn't really have a large option in the backfield to complement Westbrook then you're also probably juiced about the fact that the Eagles drafted RBs Tony Hunt and Nate "Big Nasti" Ilaoa. NOW, we get to see if these two young guys make any sort of impression. I know it'll just be pre-season games, but I'm telling you, after I get reassured that Donovan is going to be ok, my #1 priority for this TC offense will be watching the running backs.

2. Kevin Curtis. I will also be intrigued by seeing our newest Stormin' Mormon in action. He is, after all, our new "burner", and I tell you, I loved Donte' Stallworth's play last year. I'm hoping Curtis is the same type of performer.

Defense - lots of questions on D but I will limit myself to a few major ones:
My top concern/question mark: with me it all starts on the line. How do the new DTs (Montae Reagor, Ian Scott) mesh into JJ's rotation? Is Broderick Bunkley serious about become a pro football player? Will 2nd rd pick Victor Abiamiri (an impressive young man from Notre Dame) be able to make a dent at DE (he would be our biggest DE, by the way - Kearse, Cole and Juqua Thomas are all slightly smaller fastballs).

2nd of my personal concern list: how will the LB corps evolve over TC. Ok, last year was an unmitigated disaster with the linebackers. We got next to nothing from them last year (No big plays, heck, damn few normal plays), with the lone exception of rookie Omar Gaither (who gave us a glimpse of what other teams LBs tend to do for their teams - some crunching hits, the occasional INT, etc). Now with Takeo Spikes in the nest, Trotter vowing to keep the weight off and come back refreshed and two BRAND new guys likely to compete for time on the strong-side -- Chris Gocong and Stewart Bradley -- how are things going to pan out.

going on down the position chart: we come to Safety. Now the Eagles did NOT use a high round pick to bolster the secondary - something I was damn near SURE they would prior to the draft. (ed. - shows you what YOU know). Will Sean Considine validate the Eagles coaches' faith that he is a starting-caliber safety. He apparently dedicated this off-season to putting on some bulk, so he doesn't get run-over against the run. Besides that: this camp will decide WHO is the Eagles 4th safety. I am sure that Dawkins, Considine and Mikell will be the top 3, who rounds out the group? Draft pick Gaddis (who played both S/CB in college?) probably....there are a LOT of roster question this camp. Competition and nearly every position along the defense is WIDE OPEN.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for more analysis as training camp progresses.

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