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August 08, 2016

Eagles Links: What to do with Marcus Smith?

Eagles NFL

In the NFL, poor drafts have a way of catching up to you down the road. This is especially true when looking back at the top of drafts. In 2012 and 2013, both of the Eagles’ first-round picks (Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson) have mostly lived up to the expectations that come with being drafted so highly. The Eagles went a combined 20-12 in 2013 and 2014.

The team’s 2015 first-round pick, Nelson Agholor, has gotten off to a rough start on (and off) the field. Still, there is at least some hope that the USC product can make a jump in his second year.

Marcus Smith, though? Well, look at Jimmy’s practice notes from Sunday:

Steven Means had another nice day playing with the two's in place of Marcus Smith, who is out with a concussion. He had a sack, and was otherwise disruptive. After practice, Jim Schwartz said, "Pun intended, he means business." Schwartz has been critical of players, so when he praises one it means something... or maybe he's just trying to motivate Smith, which seems like a lost cause at this point. If camp ended today, I'm not sure how the Eagles could justify keeping Smith over Means.

Bleeding Green Nation’s Dave Mangels looked at some possible “bust for bust” trade scenarios that would send Smith out of Philly, but if the Louisville product doesn’t make the 53-man roster, he’ll likely be released.

The Eagles are commonly picked to finish last in the NFC East this season. While I think they have a better chance to contend than most prognosticators, a major reason for the low expectations is that the 2014 first-round pick is in a battle with a 26-year-old journeyman currently on his fourth team.

In case you missed it at PhillyVoice

1.    Training camp notes: The defense dominates for another day, Rodney McLeod is pretty good, and Caleb Sturgis has the edge in the kicking competition.

2.    Let’s get physical: In support of Doug Pederson mandating that the pads pop once again at Eagles camp.

3.    Getting the gang back: No deal yet, but the Eagles are reportedly close to bolstering their linebacker with another former Jim Schwartz player, Stephen Tulloch.

Other Eagles news, notes and analysis from around the web:

Schwartz: ‘I Have A Lot Of Respect’ For Tulloch: Josh Paunil, Birds 24/7

Speaking of Tulloch, Schwartz addressed the subject after practice on Sunday:

“I got a lot of background with Steve,” Schwartz said. “I was with Tennessee when we drafted him; [he] ended up being starting middle linebacker for us there. When I was head coach in Detroit, we brought him up there. I have a lot of respect for that guy and his production. But last week, when you guys asked me similar questions, I said the same thing: Howie [Roseman] and Joe [Douglas], those guys — all the scouts — are always looking for ways to improve our team.

Fiery Jim Schwartz is earning players' respect: Jeff McLane, Philadelphia Inquirer

In-depth profile of the defensive coordinator, who isn’t afraid to call his players out in film room… or give them free lemonade?

Fans who have been invited to training camp have already gotten a glimpse of his intensity. He's pretty much the same guy behind closed doors. Schwartz isn't afraid of calling out players in a group setting, as he systematically did during one brutal meeting this spring.

But there is a softer, more thoughtful side. Schwartz will often take an anecdotal approach to teaching. The stories may be profound or they just may be humorous. And he isn't above awarding players for effort - most recently, with gallons of lemonade from Chick-fil-A.

Live from Philadelphia: Eagles defense taking shape under Jim Schwartz: Don Banks, Sports Illustrated

Here’s an Eagles perspective from a national writer, with the emphasis on Schwartz and the defense:

Schwartz gave me about 20 minutes or so Saturday and he’s clearly relishing the challenge of molding his Eagles defense into a unit that takes on his never-back-down style. He’s living just three miles (and “29 lights, straight down Broad Street’’) from the team complex, and after a year spent away from NFL coaching in 2015, the former Lions head coach has essentially been tossed the keys to the Eagles defense by new head coach Doug Pederson and told to get it done.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann