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June 24, 2016

Five players to watch when the Eagles put on the pads

Eagles NFL
062416BennieLogan Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

How will Bennie Logan adapt to an attacking style defense?

When training camp opens up in a few weeks, the Eagles will eschew their shorts for full padded practices, many of which will include tackling, just like in the old Andy Reid days. There were some players who impressed during OTAs and minicamp, but playing in pads is another animal. Here are five players who will have my attention.

Jalen Mills, CB

Mills looked like a player during OTAs and minicamp, impressing both the media as well as his own veteran teammates, like Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Jenkins. In fact, Jenkins thinks Mills can compete to be in the starting lineup.

Jim Schwartz liked what he has seen so far of Mills, noting some of his positive attributes. "What he has shown is he's a very good athlete," said Schwartz. "He can play the ball, and he's comfortable being on an island. I think if you were check-marking things for corners, those would be three near or at the top."

Mills was good in coverage at LSU. As a tackler, ehhhhh... take a look at the following video and skip to 1:34, 1:47, 2:02, and 2:37. Mills is not good at fighting through blocks to make plays.

Mills isn't exactly Brian Dawkins when it comes to physical play. He'll have to show the willingness and ability to hit somebody when they put on the pads in training camp.

Bennie Logan, DT

Logan is a fascinating player to me this season. He is the only projected starter on the team scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason, and it's unknown at this point if the Eagles have strong intentions in making sure they lock him up long term.

Logan was drafted to be a two-gapping NT, meaning that they wanted him to control the line of scrimmage, tying up blockers instead of trying to penetrate into the backfield. In the preseason last year, however, Logan lived on the other side of the line of scrimmage, making an abnormal number of impressive plays. He dominated.

I believe Logan showed that he can be a quick, penetrating force along the Eagles' defensive line. Training camp will be the first real opportunity to see him get the chance to fire off the ball and shoot gaps with regularity.

Isaac Seumalo, OG, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT

Offensive and defensive line play is nearly impossible to evaluate during OTAs and minicamp, when the players don't have the pads on, so really, they'll all be of heightened interest. However, we'll focus on the rookies.

Seumalo and Vaitai were of course the two offensive linemen the Eagles drafted this year. Seumalo missed OTAs and minicamp because his college (Oregon State) runs on the quarters system, so our first real view of him will occur in training camp.

Meanwhile, Vaitai will have a good assortment of pass rushers to face in Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham, and Vinny Curry. Training camp will serve as the first glimpse of whether or not he can be an answer at RT whenever Lane Johnson replaces Jason Peters at LT.

Rodney McLeod, S

McLeod is only 5'10, 195, which is less than ideal, but he plays bigger than his size. From 2013-2015, when he was a three-year starter with the Rams, McLeod had 233 tackles, 18 pass breakups, 5 interceptions, and 7 forced fumbles. As you might expect from a smaller safety, he has good range, which he showed during OTAs and minicamp.

However, we haven't yet gotten to witness McLeod as a hitter, which is another big strength of his overall game. There's no concern here that he can't hit, to be clear. I'm just excited to see it live.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski