August 01, 2019
The Philadelphia Eagles are through their first seven practices of training camp, so now feels like an appropriate time to note who has helped themselves so far, and whose stock has taken a tumble.
• RB Miles Sanders: After Sanders missed the entirety of spring practices, there were valid concerns that he wouldn't have enough time to develop before the start of the regular season. After the first week of camp, however, he has put some of those concerns to bed, as he already looks like the best running back on the team. Running backs don't need much grooming before they can be good players in the NFL, and if I'm Doug Pederson, I'd just start him Week 1 and see if I have something special right off the bat. To note, I don't think he'll do that, but there's little doubt in my mind that Sanders will be the starter at some point during the season.
Sanders did have an injury scare on Thursday, so we'll see if that will sideline him for any period of time, but his first week of camp on the field was encouraging.
• OT Andre Dillard: Dillard came into the NFL with a reputation as a stud in pass protection, and he hasn't disappointed. He lost a few battles early in camp in 11-on-11's, but has since settled in and is now consistently winning his matchups. If Dillard is forced to play this season, he'll immediately be better at LT than Halapolivaati Vaitai has been the last three years, in my opinion.
• DE Joe Ostman: It seems like everyone in the organization has been pumping up Ostman for about a year now, and practice observers are beginning to see why. He has been legitimately good, and not just in a "he's hustling more than everyone else" kind of way. He's been so intriguing to the Eagles, in fact, that Jim Schwartz is trying to find additional ways of using him. Recently in practices, Schwartz has been standing Ostman up over the center is something of a Joker role.
• LB Kamu Grugier-Hill: With Nigel Bradham still not participating in team drills, Grugier-Hill is the top linebacker on the team, and I don't think it's close.
• CB Sidney Jones: After following up his redshirt rookie season with a disappointing second season, Jones has stepped his game up this year, and is playing well. He has shown sticky coverage ability, as well as some impressive ball skills, getting work in on the outside and in the slot (but mostly on the outside). With Jalen Mills on PUP and Ronald Darby still not yet ready to play, the Eagles would be fine with a trio of Jones, Rasul Douglas, and Avonte Maddox if they have to start the season with those guys Week 1.
• QB Clayton Thorson: I hate to pick on the rookie quarterback, but Thorson has been really bad so far. Yes, he was a fifth-round pick in a five-man draft class, but with each day, it's becoming harder and harder to justify giving him a spot on the roster.
• RB Corey Clement: Clement finally was able to participate in 7-on-7's on Thursday, but he still isn't ready to participate yet in team drills. With Sanders impressing, Jordan Howard almost certainly having a significant role in the offense, and the return of Darren Sproles, it's going to be hard for Clement to carve out a role of his own whenever he is ready to play.
• WR Mack Hollins and Shelton Gibson: Hollins and Gibson were both 2017 draftees, and they are both struggling heading into the third year with the team. Hollins is sidelined with a new injury unrelated to the groin injury that kept him out for a year, and Gibson has not developed as the deep threat the team thought he could become.
• OT Jordan Mailata: While trying to learn the sport of football last year, Mailata struggled mightily in camp before the light bulb came on during the preseason games. This year, while trying to learn a new position (sort of -- he's being cross-trained at RT), he's struggling once again. We'll see if Mailata can turn it back on again during the preseason. I don't think it's a big surprise that a guy who just started playing football 15 months ago is struggling, but certainly, the hope was that he could have shown another big leap this summer. Perhaps expectations here should be more realistic?
• LB Zach Brown: His stats over the last three years say that Brown can play. However, he hasn't stood out in a positive way at all so far throughout camp, and he looks completely disinterested at times during non-team drills.
I've seen Eagles players go through cruise control during camp in the past, only to watch them turn it on when it matters, making any camp concerns look foolish. Fletcher Cox and DeSean Jackson come to mind there. However, Brown is joining a new team. He doesn't have the luxury of not having to prove himself.
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